The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, made an unannounced visit to Czech soldiers in Afghanistan on Thursday. His visit came a week after a soldier from the Czech Republic became the country’s second combat casualty in Afghanistan. Mr Topolánek first stopped at a field hospital at Kabul airport, before travelling to the province of Logar, where a Czech provincial reconstruction team is operating. The PM told Czech soldiers they were mostly the same age as his oldest child and when one of them was killed or injured it felt as if it had happened to his own child. By coincidence, the second Czech to die in combat in Afghanistan was killed hours after the Czech Parliament approved the sending of 100 extra soldiers to the war-torn country.
A goal by Czech footballer Karel Poborský at the European Championship in 1996 has been voted the greatest individual goal in the history of the competition in a poll on its official website. Poborský cleverly lifted the ball over the Portuguese goalkeeper in the quarter-finals of Euro 96. That lob proved valuable: soon afterwards the midfielder was signed by Manchester United, before going on to a more successful engagement at Benfica. He made a record 118 appearances for the Czech national team.
A new section of Prague’s Metro system was officially opened on Thursday. The C or red line has been extended by three stations, and 4.6 km, from Ládví to Letňany. It will now serve 50,000 more residents of the Czech capital. Speaking at Thursday’s opening ceremony, Prague’s mayor Pavel Bém said extension work would not stop there: nine new stations are to be added to the A or green line, including one at Prague Airport, and a whole new D line is to be built.
The 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II was marked by a number of events in the Czech Republic on Thursday. Czech President Václav Klaus laid a wreath at a monument to Czech soldiers who lost their lives in the service of other countries’ armies in a ceremony attended by veterans and other senior politicians. Mr Klaus also appointed three new generals to the Czech Army. The Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the prime minister’s residence were opened to the public, on what was a state holiday.
A Czech soldier was injured in a rocket attack on an allied forces military base in the Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday, the news website Novinky.cz reported. The soldier, whose hand was hit by shell splinter, underwent an operation at a British field hospital. His condition is stable and his life is not in danger. The chief of staff of the Czech Army, Vlastimil Picek, said the injured man would be brought home.
The Communist Party which has the largest number of rank and file members among Czech parties is gradually shrinking. Last year 16 people on average left the party each day. At the end of 2007 the Communist Party had some 77, 000 members, in contrast to 1990s, when its rank and file amounted to around 300,000. The party is also gradually ageing; the average age of its members is currently 70 years.
The foreign ministry has decided to earmark another 2.5 million crowns for the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. The Czech government is sending altogether 5 million crowns to the devastated region. People in Need and Charity of the Czech Republic have already set up special accounts for public contributions. The cyclone Nargis has so far claimed more than 22.500 people, while another 41,000 are missing.
Festival of animated films Anifest gets underway on Wednesday in the south Bohemian town of Třeboň. The 7th Anifest will screen more than 600 films from 59 countries. Among the 499 films in competition will be feature-length and short films, advertisements, music videos as well as student films. The festival will continue until May 13.
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