16th seed Radek Štepánek – the last Czech in the men’s singles competition, was defeated at Wimbledon on Saturday by Russian player Mikhail Youzhny. The Czech tennis player lost the 4 hour+ marathon in five sets. The score was 5:7, 7:6, 4:6, 7:6, 3:6. Štepánek demolished two rackets on the court and admitted at a press conference afterwards that he destroyed an additional four in the changing room out of frustration.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek attended celebrations marking the anniversary of the establishing of the first Czechoslovak brigade as well as French recognition of the Czechs and Slovaks’ right to their own state 90 years ago in Darney, Lorraine on Sunday. The prime minister thanked the country for its past and current alliances and spoke about the symbolic meaning of the event. Sunday’s ceremony was attended by French, Czech and Slovak officials; a delegation of Czech war veterans was also present. Mr Topolánek laid a wreath on a memorial situated where about 6,000 Czech and Slovak soldiers once swore allegiance to Czechoslovakia.
Czech consular officials in Split have revealed that since the start of the tourist season seven Czechs have died in Croatia. According to officials, five suffered heart attacks, most probably brought on by the heat, while two people died in car accidents. In addition, two Czech women in their 60s have gone missing: one disappeared last weekend near the town of Pula, the second, near Split. Croatian police and coastal services are taking part in searches. Croatia remains a favoured summer destination for many Czechs: on average around 800,000 visit each year.
15-year-old amateur golfer Jessica Korda – the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda – has made it to the final round of the prestigious US Open. Only one other Czech player has ever made it as far. Korda clinched the 58th spot - tied with four other players - ahead of former US Open champion Laura Davies of Great Britain, as well as young US star Michelle Wie, who, along with 80 other golfers failed to make the cut. Korda originally started in tennis like her father (the winner of the 1998 Australian Open) but then moved to golf. She studies at a golf academy in Florida; her famous father has been her caddy.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has suggested that the ultra-right National Party could be dissolved in the future if it breaches the law. He made the comments in a Czech TV broadcast on Sunday, saying the non-parliamentary extremist party knew how to manoeuvre on the edge of legislation and was careful not to go over the limits. The interior minister was reacting to attacks by 150 activists from the party and other far-right groups against gays in Brno on Saturday, in which some threw fire crackers at participants and an unknown perpetrator threw a tear gas grenade into a crowd. Preaching "law and order," National Party followers have adopted an aggressive stance against foreigners and Romanies. The opposition has criticised Mr Langer for not taking sufficient steps.
MP Petr Wolf, who recently left the opposition Social Democrats, has alleged that party leader Jiří Paroubek attempted to blackmail him during February’s presidential election. The MP told Czech news agency ČTK that Mr Paroubek had said that if he did not support Social Democrat candidate Jan Švejnar, he would disclose information of alleged irregularities at a firm where Wolf had worked. Mr Švejnar was eventually defeated by the incumbent, Václav Klaus, nominated by the ruling Civic Democratic Party. Petr Wolf on Sunday reiterated he had left his party’s deputies group after facing continued pressure and denied he had been “bought” by the ruling coalition. He is the fourth MP to have left the Social Democratic Party since it went into the opposition in 2006.
A record number of visitors attended a popular stag mating call competition at Hluboká nad Vltavou, south Bohemia, on Saturday. 15,000 came out to see 25 competitors from nine countries take part in the 10th European Deer Mating Call Championship. Those taking part competed in a number of areas, imitating various calls. The competition was won by 24-year-old student of forestry Michal Franč who said he has practiced calls since childhood.
Around 20 right-wing extremists attempted to disrupt a gay rights event at a Brno club on Saturday evening but were prevented from doing so by police. The move by extremists was a follow-up to events earlier in the day. In the afternoon some 500 gays and lesbians took part in a gay pride parade - the first of its kind in the Czech Republic. Around 200 police were on hand to prevent an estimated 150 extremists from causing violence. But chaos ensued shortly after the parade ended, when an unknown perpetrator threw a tear gas grenade into a local crowd. Police have not arrested anyone for the incident, but detained some 15 suspects for various misdemeanours. Two were charged with disorderly conduct.
Czech star Jaromír Jágr is reportedly weighing his options on his hockey future, although where he will play is undecided yet. He could continue with the New York Rangers in the NHL or play in the Russian Super League for Omsk, a team where he spent much of the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, or elsewhere. The New York Post reported on Friday that Jágr had been offered 35 million dollars for a three-year-contract. While not making a decision yet, the 36-year-old player, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, has indicated he would like to play at last two more years abroad before returning to his original team Kladno in the Czech Republic.
The Czech government has approved a state budget deficit of 38.1 billion crowns (for an overall fiscal gap of 1.5 percent of GDP) for 2009, as it attempts to reign in spending and push further reforms. On Friday the Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek called the proposal, which is the equivalent of around 2.5 billion US dollars, “ambitious”, stressing the proposed fiscal trajectory was a return to “civilised levels”. According to the minister, savings cuts across government ministries will be required, although spending in some sectors – such as education – is expected to go up. The 2009 budget plans on spending to drop to 1,053 billion crowns, down from 1,107.3 billion this year.
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