The duo of Czech bobsledders Ivo Danilevic and Roman Gomola were crowned European Champions in their event on Saturday, when they beat their closest competitors by one 100th of a second. A third place finish at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, one of two results, was enough to push them past the Swiss duo of Ivo Ruegge and Cedric Grande in the overall championship standings. Germany's Lange & Kuske, the title favourites, finished third. Winning the European title is an historic achievement for Czech bobsledding.
Pavla Topolankova, the estranged wife of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, has claimed that the office of the government recommended that she keep a low-profile and not take part in official events. Mrs Topolankova made the comments while appearing on a well-known TV discussion programme on Sunday. Afterwards, a government spokesman declined to comment. Mrs Topolankova did not say whether she would take the alleged recommendation seriously. Two days earlier, she stated publicly that she intended to continue on in her official role. Her husband, Mirek Topolanek, admitted last week that he had separated from his wife and was living with Lucie Talmanova, his girlfriend and fellow Civic Democrat. Pavla Topolankova has said she is not planning to file for divorce.
At 19, Martina Sablikova has become the youngest competitor to ever win the European Speed Skating Championship combined events title. On Sunday the nineteen-year old skater set a new world record in the 5,000 metres, earning a time of 6:58:45 which helped her cut a lead by the Netherlands' Ireen Wust. Sablikova has proven to be a specialist in longer formats: in the 500 metre event earlier on she finished ninth; on Saturday she also won the 3,000 metre event in which she also set a new world record.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has expressed the conviction that none of his party's MPs will back the country's newly-appointed government in an upcoming confidence vote. In his view, even MP Milos Melcak, who has remained "undecided", will in the end choose not to back or tolerate the centre-right coalition. On Saturday Mr Melcak indicated he might abstain from voting. Prime Minister Topolanek's centre-right government needs support from at least one opposition MP in order to remain in power, and some Civic Democrats have speculated that as many as seven opposition MPs could back the government. But, such claims have been rejected by Jiri Paroubek and others. At the weekend Mr Paroubek recommended that if any of his party's MPs did break ranks during Friday's vote, they should leave the party or risk expulsion.
Organisers have revealed that the One World 2007 International Documentary Film Festival focused on human rights, will present some 120 documentaries from 40 countries in Prague in late February, early March. The festival was given a UNESCO special mention in early January. Each year the event is traditionally held under the auspices of former president Vaclav Havel, as well as Prague Mayor Pavel Bem, as well as regional governors and mayors of towns where the festival will continue. After Prague, the 9th annual One World festival will move to an additional sixteen towns in the Czech Republic, including Karlovy Vary and Zlin.
A demonstration by right-wing extremists, planned in the town of Otrokovice near Zlin, eastern Moravia was broken up by police shortly after it began at three pm on Saturday. Police moved in after right-wing extremists clashed with anarchists opposed to the march. The right-wing extremist organisation which organised the event is reportedly some two hundred members strong. On Saturday attendees were monitored by an undisclosed number of police and even a police helicopter. The local town hall had warned citizens in advance of the event; it is not the first time right-wing extremists have chosen Otrokovice as a site.
Social Democrat MP Milos Melcak has indicated he may allow the country's newly-appointed government a chance to win a majority in an upcoming confidence vote. In an interview for the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes on Saturday, Mr Melcak indicated he was ultimately still undecided but he said it was possible he may leave the chamber during next Friday's confidence vote. That would allow the centre-right government, led by Mirek Topolanek, a chance of earning a majority. In the interview Mr Melcak suggested there were a number of reasons why it would be preferable for his party to go into the opposition, echoing recent statements made by the party's former leader Milos Zeman. MP Melcak told Mlada Fronta Dnes he would prefer negotiations between the three-party coalition and the Social Democrats to continue.
Director Vaclav Vorlicek is set to direct a sequel to his well-known children's classic "Divka na kosteti" - A Girl on a Broom, dating back to 1971. Then, the lead role of Saxana, a pretty witch, was performed by actress and pop singer Petra Cernocka, who returns in the lead role. Other actors will include Jan Hrusinsky, Jan Kraus, and Petr Narozny. The new film, which has a 65 million crown budget (the equivalent of roughly 3 million US dollars), is to be released in 2008. It has been given the title "Saxana - Veletrh strasidel", or Saxana - The Monsters' Fair.
Members of the Prague public were able to take part in a memorial
ceremony on Saturday marking the sacrifice of student Jan Palach 38
years ago. On January 16th, 1969, the young student, who was twenty
years old, doused himself in gasoline and set himself alight on
Prague's Wenceslas Square. The act was one of protest against the
brutal Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The ceremony on
Saturday took place at the site of Mr Palach's grave at the Olsany
cemetery in Prague.
Also on the day, some 130 people gathered in Mr Palach's home town of Vsetaty, near Prague, to mark his sacrifice and tragic death.
Strong gales continued to hit parts of northern Moravia on Friday, knocking out power, damaging property, and bringing down trees. Fire brigades were sent out repeatedly on Friday afternoon to deal with situations in some places. Teams secured a damaged traffic light, secured downed cables, and cleared fallen trees from railway tracks. Strong winds have hit northern parts of the country since Thursday, with some areas recoding winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour.
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