Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman reached his second grand slam singles semi-final on Wednesday after winning a grueling five-set battle against Czech 14th seed Radek Stepanek. Stepanek described his 7-6, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 defeat as " a match of missed opportunities and disrupted concentration". I have only myself to blame, he told reporters later. Meanwhile, the 34 year old Bjorkman was in a state of disbelief, telling reporters he did not think this would happen at this stage of his career. He will face Roger Federer in the semi-final of the men's singles on Friday.
Protestant churches in the Czech Republic are commemorating the legacy of reformer priest Jan Hus who was burnt at the stake in 1415. In his memory July 6th is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. Services dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Evangelical and other Protestant churches around the country. Jan Hus was born around 1370 and after studying in Prague was made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer priest John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. Hus refused to renounce his faith and was declared a heretic and excommunicated by a Catholic tribunal, before being burnt at the stake.
Czech environmentalists are warning that a planned techno party would threaten the breeding ground of a protected bird species. The techno party in question is to be held at the end of July at a military training ground in the vicinity of Karlovy Vary. The Czech Environmentalists Association says that the land which the Czech military has offered the organizers as a potential site for the rave is a breading ground for corncrakes - a rare and protected bird species. Since the military has allegedly refused to respond to its warnings, the Czech Environmentalists Association is planning to send a complaint to the European Commission.
The outgoing Czech prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said that he supports Slovakia's new leftist prime minister Robert Fico despite the fact that he has formed a coalition with a far right nationalist party. Mr. Paroubek told reporters he thought the new Slovak government was being unnecessarily demonized and that he planned to write an open letter to the party of European Socialists to try and persuade them not to isolate Slovakia's new prime minister. The Strasbourg-based assembly's Socialist caucus is demanding that Fico's Smer party be excluded from the Party of European Socialists, an umbrella organization for left wing parties in the 25-nation European Union, which Slovakia joined in 2004.
July 5th is a national holiday in the Czech Republic commemorating Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Czech lands in 863. They also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form. The two brothers are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, spent July 5th in the Moravian highlands visiting ex-prime minister and former party leader Milos Zeman in order to try to convince him to return to high politics and run for a post in the Senate in the autumn elections. Senate elections are due to take place in 27 constituencies in the autumn and Mr. Paroubek said he felt that a number of strong candidates could increase the party's chances in them. Milos Zeman who was in his time regarded as a controversial leader has allegedly declined the offer.
Czech national team manager Karel Brueckner will sign on for a further two years as the coach of the national Czech football squad, in a deal that is as good as signed, a top member of the national football federation has said. On Tuesday Czech and Moravian Football Federation board member Vlastimil Kostal revealed that only a few formalities now stood in the way of a new agreement. He made the announcement shortly after meeting personally with the coach. The two year extension means that 66-year-old Brueckner will manage the Czech team through qualification for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
As every year on this day thousands of believers made a pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the missionaries were based. Addressing a congregation of some 30 thousand believers Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said the Church should move with the times and come closer to the people. He said it was vital to present the New Testament in a manner comprehensible to today's young generation. The mass, served by archbishop Jan Graubner, was held out in the open air and dozens of people collapsed in the scorching heat. Medics on standby said people suffered largely from dehydration and sunstroke.
The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - is holding its 14th all-Sokol meeting at Prague's Strahov stadium this week. The event culminates with a mass gym performance at the stadium involving some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages. Czech expats from around the world are taking part. The Sokol athletics body is one of the oldest organizations in the world. Its modern era began with its revival after the fall of communism but even during the dark period of Czech history ex-pats around the world kept its spirit alive. The all-Sokol meeting takes place once in six years.
The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the general election last month was fully in keeping with law and its results are valid. The court was responding to around 70 election complaints, lodged by a number of regional politicians. The court also rejected a complaint by a Social Democrat who suggested his party had been harmed by statements made by the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party which won the election. All were ruled legitimate within the general pre-election campaign. The court did point to a number of mistakes made by election commissions, but said those had not influenced the election results.
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