Attending a military parade in Moscow to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he did not regard present-day Russia as a security threat and regretted the fact that some people in the Czech Republic persisted in viewing it as such. The president noted that the presence of Western statesmen and soldiers on Moscow’s Red Square this year – for the first time since the war -was a clear signal of a shift in relations towards greater trust and cooperation.
Prague’s Ruzyně Airport was forced to cancel flights to several European destinations on Sunday as airports in Italy, France, Germany and Austria closed to traffic due to the spread of a volcanic ash cloud over their air space. Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, said in a statement on Sunday that the ash-cloud would contaminate Czech airspace by Sunday evening. Prague’s Ruzyně Airport has advised travelers to inform themselves in advance about scheduled flights in and out of the Czech capital.
Town councilors in Stonava, located in the heavily industrialized eastern part of the country, have agreed to use municipal funds to pay for a fortnight’s health holiday for all the towns 122 children. The children are to spend a fortnights holiday at the seaside. The town’s major, Ondřej Fébr, said it was the least the town could do for its youngest inhabitants who were forced to live in one of the most polluted environments of Europe. Statistics show that the inhabitants of this region are more prone to certain health problems, such as asthma and allergies.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer is to pay a two-day working visit to France on Monday and Tuesday, during which he is expected to meet his French counterpart Francois Fillon and Economy Minister Christine Lagarde. The talks are expected to focus on a range of bilateral issues as well the threat of a deepening financial crisis in the eurozone. This visit will be the first top-level contact between the two countries since the Czech presidency of the European Union which to some extent strained relations between them.
The winner of 16th annual Prague International Marathon is Eliud Kiptanui from Kenya, who covered the 42 kilometre distance in 2:05:39, a two minute improvement on last year’s record. The women’s race was won by Helena Kiprop, also a Kenyan representative. More than 8 thousand people took part in the longest Prague marathon, among them ice-skating champion Martina Sablíková and skier Lukáš Bauer. Many people only covered part of the distance, a shorter circuit for parent with children.
The Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl died on Sunday at the age of 77, the CTK news agency reported. Mr. Motejl was the country’s first Ombudsman, taking up the post in December of 2000. He previously served as justice minister and president of the Supreme Court. In all his posts Mr. Motejl enjoyed great public trust and President Klaus who was originally against setting up the post of Ombudsman in the Czech Republic, later admitted that with his dedicated work Mr. Motejl had convinced him of the opposite.
Police detained 17 people during street clashes between football fans in Prague late on Saturday night. The street violence erupted shortly after a match between Slavia and Bohemians 1905. Emotions ran high also due to the fact that this was the last match at the Doliček stadium for the Prague soccer club Bohemians. Due to the stadium’s poor state the club will have to share the nearby modern Eden stadium with Slavia Prague, a solution that most fans oppose. Drunk fans smashed the windows of the Vršovice town hall and altogether cause damage to public property worth 250 thousand crowns. Of the 17 detained two may face charges of assaulting a public official.
Weapons demolition experts were called to an alarming find in a forest near the town of Dobroslavice on Sunday. One of the locals uncovered a large amount of WWII ammunition including two artillery shells, landmines, an antitank cluster bomb and thirteen hand grenades. One on the mines was embedded in the roots of a tree and experts had to trigger a blast on the spot.
Finance Minister Eduard Janota has not ruled out Czech participation in an EU effort to shore up the troubled eurozone. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday minister Janota said several aid-mechanisms were on the table of a meeting of the 27 EU finance ministers in Brussels later that day. The Czech finance minister said that either way the Czech economy would feel the impact of this crisis as a result of growing interests on state bonds. The Czech Finance Ministry had been planning a new emission of euro bonds but is now considering whether to issue any new bonds at all.
Fans of baroque music will gather at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Sunday night for one of the pre-opening concerts of the Prague Spring. The English Baroque Solists and Monteverdi Choir will performance Bach's Mass in B minor, under the baton of the famous British conductor John Eliot Gardiner. The Prague Spring Music Festival opens on May 12th with a performance of Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country.
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