Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, has begun a three-day visit to the Czech Republic. On Sunday afternoon Princess Anne watched the Velka pardubicka steeplechase in Pardubice, east Bohemia, where she arrived aboard a Royal Air Force aircraft used by the British Royal family. Her schedule includes meetings with President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek as well as a visit to the Kladruby National Stud in Central Bohemia.
Culture Minister Vaclav Jehlicka has said the Czech state has agreed with churches to pay them 83 billion crowns (over 4 billion USD) in compensation for the property confiscated by the former communist regime. Mr Jehlicka said that one third of the actual property would be returned to religious orders, while the 83 billion crowns would be a compensation for the remaining two thirds that cannot be returned. The sum would by paid in instalments over the next 60 to 70 years. Minister Jehlicka stressed that neither municipalities nor regions, but only the state would return property to churches. The draft legislation is to be submitted to the government in December.
Czech rider Lukas Pesek won a thrilling 125cc Australian Grand Prix in which the first five riders were separated by less than a second on Sunday. Pesek clocked a time of 38 minutes 3.020 seconds on his Derbi to edge out Spain's Joan Olive with Spaniard Hector Faubel third. Pesek has experienced a late season revival with his win - he had not finished in the top 10 since his home Grand Prix at Brno.
Former education minister Dana Kuchtova of the Green Party has admitted the Greens might leave the government if the coalition partners do not accept the party's nomination of Dusan Luzny as her successor. Mr Luzny worked as deputy to Dana Kuchtova who resigned earlier this month in connection with a poorly drafted bid for EU funding. Mr Luzny's nomination was approved by the Greens' national council last Sunday. However, both Green Party head Martin Bursik and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek have expressed their reservations about it. Mr Luzny was also criticised by some Christian Democrats for his membership of the Communist Party before 1989 and for having omitted the words "Marxism-Leninism" from the title of his university dissertation on his CV.
A court in Johannesburg which was due to discuss the Czech Republic's request for the extradition of fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir on Monday has again adjourned the proceedings. The commercial radio station Impuls reported the news on Sunday quoting Justice Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Kuncova. Mr Krejcir, now a Seychellois citizen, is wanted in the Czech Republic on charges of fraud and conspiracy to murder. He escaped from the country in June 2005. In April, Mr Krejcir was arrested in Johannesburg at the Czech Republic's request. He was later released from custody on bail and is now waiting in South Africa for the court verdict on his extradition.
Sunday's edition of the tabloid daily Blesk reports that Sir Nicholas Winton, the British man who helped save almost 700 Czechoslovak Jewish children from the Holocaust, has been admitted to hospital in Prague. Sir Nicholas, who is 98, arrived in Prague last Sunday to take part in the Forum 2000 conference. According to Blesk, he was taken to hospital on Thursday due to exhaustion.
Several dozen people took part in a gathering in Prague on Sunday in order to express solidarity with the Belarusian opposition and show support for its efforts for the country to join the EU and NATO. The demonstrators carried the red-and-white Belarusian flags and banners criticising the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. A large meeting of the Belarusian opposition supporters calling for the country's integration in Europe was held in the country's capital Minsk on Sunday. Similar events in support of the Belarusian opposition also took place in other European cities, including Brussels.
Former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross says he has submitted to the police all documents regarding his recent purchase of shares in the Moravia Energo company. Mr Gross maintains no regulations were breached in the transaction. Mr Gross's Social Democrat Party called on him to clarify the circumstances of the purchase and subsequent selling of the shares. The purchase which reportedly took place six months ago was financed by the Slovak branch of the Czech consultancy Key Investments. The former prime minister has now sold his 31 percent stake in the energy company for an undisclosed sum to the Arca Capital Bohemia company, owned by Slovak financier Pavol Krupa. The daily Mlada fronta Dnes estimated the sum at 100 million crowns (more than five million US dollars).
The city of Brno has raised a memorial to US pilot William Kiggins who was shot down over the city 63 years ago. The monument has the shape of a wing of his P-51 Mustang aircraft whose parts were discovered five months ago two metres underground in one of the city's districts. William Kiggins' fighter plane was shot down on October 11, 1944 by German antiaircraft artillery and "Miss Betty", as he affectionately called his aircraft, crashed in a field. A local woman who remembers the crash helped identify the exact spot where the remnants of the aircraft were eventually discovered. The local authorities are planning to put them on display at an airport in Brno.
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