Fines for misusing, deliberately damaging or "grossly disparaging" Czech state symbols have tripled, under an amendment which has just come into effect. The new penalty for abusing the country's flag or state emblem is 10,000 crowns (around 450 US dollars). And institutions which do not raise the flag on national holidays can be fined up to 15,000 crowns.
Mr Paroubek, whose Social Democrats came second in recent elections,
said on Sunday he would not rule out supporting a government led by the
election's winners, the Civic Democrats. He said it depended on what
concessions the Civic Democrats would make; their plans for a flat tax
and the privatisation of public services are opposed by the Social
The Civic Democrats are trying to form a coalition with two smaller parties, but the three would be one seat short of a majority in the lower house.
The Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has been beaten by world number one Roger Federer in the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany. After losing the first set of Sunday's match 6-0, Berdych fought back to take the second in a tie-break, before losing the third and final set 6-2. Berdych recently lost to the Swiss star in the French Open.
The minister of defence, Karel Kuhnl, has visited Czech soldiers serving in the city of Kandahar in the south of Afghanistan. The Czech special forces are taking part in a large operation there against Taliban fighters. Earlier on Saturday Mr Kuhnl visited a group of Czech bomb disposal experts and meteorologists at Kabul international airport.
A memorial ceremony was held on Sunday in honour of the Czechoslovak
parachutists who lost their lives after taking part in an operation to
assassinate the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich.
Sergeants Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik and other members of their group were
hiding in the crypt of Prague's Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius when
they were surrounded by German troops on June 18, 1942. They fought until
dawn, but the situation was hopeless and they chose to take their own
lives rather than surrender.
Sunday's memorial was attended by World War II resistance fighters and several politicians, including the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek.
The Czech Republic are facing an uphill battle to reach the knock-out
stage at the football World Cup. After losing against Ghana on
Saturday, the Czechs need to at least draw with Italy on Thursday and
hope for a favourable outcome in a game between Ghana and the USA.
Defender Tomas Ujfalusi and forward Vratislav Lokvenc will be suspended for the Italy match, while first choice strikers Milan Baros and Jan Koller remain doubtful.
Three-quarters of Czechs do not think the Czech Republic should give more attention to the rights of the Roma minority, suggests a poll by the STEM agency. Over two-thirds of respondents said they had a "negative relationship" towards Romanies, while one third said they would be completely opposed to having a Romany neighbour. Roma in the Czech Republic complain of constant discrimination; they have higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of education.
The police are investigating Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, after he presented several wads of what looked like banknotes on a TV debate programme, the website aktualne.cz reports. He put the wads on the table in an attempt to highlight alleged corruption involving the Social Democrats, whose leader Jiri Paroubek he was debating. Mr Topolanek is now being investigated on suspicion of counterfeiting, aktualne says.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, says the European Union's
ability to absorb more countries should not be a condition for further
enlargement. Speaking after an EU summit in Brussels, the minister said
by absorption ability he meant the question of whether present members
can afford the accession of other countries, and whether they could
defend further enlargement in their own parliaments. Mr Svoboda called
for the doors to enlargement to be "opened fully".
On the issue of ratification of the stalled EU constitution, Minister Svoboda said the process should not continue, given that the document had been rejected by French and Dutch voters. Fifteen EU states have ratified the constitution, while a number of others - including the Czech Republic - have put the issue on hold.
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