Three hundred and thirty first-year students of the Czech Defence University along with 153 military recruits were sworn in at Prague Castle on Friday. After the ceremony, President Václav Klaus also appointed three new generals and promoted two other generals of the Czech military. The event was held as part of the celebrations of the Independent Czechoslovak State Day. While President Klaus said the new troops have undertaken immense responsibility while Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra noted the military oath also represented a moral commitment.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday laid wreaths at Washington’s statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s founder and first president, marking the national holiday. On the second day of his short working visit to the US, Mr Nečas wished Czechs behaved better to each other. On Thursday, the Czech Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama in the White House for talks on issues such as a multi-billion Czech nuclear tender and plans to establish a NATO helicopter training base in the Czech Republic.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Agniezska Radwanska from Poland 7:6, 6:3 at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Friday move to her career-best number two in the world rankings. The 21-year-old Czech was losing 1:5 in the first set but won four games in a row and took the set in a tie-break. In the second set, Radwanska failed to convert two break points and Kvitová wrapped up the match. In the tournament’s semifinals, Petra Kvitová will face Australia’s Samantha Stosur.
Several hundred Czech Christian believers of various denominations gathered on Friday at the foot of the mythical Mount Říp, in central Bohemia, to pray for the wellbeing of their country. Organizers said they wanted to offer an alternative to official secular celebrations of the national holiday. The Czechoslovak Independence Day was also marked by Czech monarchists who marched through the centre of Prague.
Czechs on Friday commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, the precursor of the modern-day Czech Republic that was established on October 28, 1918. Events are being held to mark the national holiday; President Václav Klaus laid wreaths at the National Monument at Prague’s Vítkov hill, along with the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, several government ministers and other officials. The celebrations will conclude on Friday evening when President Klaus will present state honours and decorations at Prague Castle.
Some 30 far-right extremists gathered at a rally organized by the Workers’ Party of Social Justice in the north-eastern town of Havířov on Friday. The rally, which had been banned by the local authorities, lasted for about 30 minutes; the party chair, Tomáš Vandas, criticized the authorities for allegedly oppressing the freedom of speech in the country. The organizers face a fine for holding the rally despite the ban.
The writer, poet, diplomat and former dissident Jiří Gruša died on
Friday at the age of 72. The head of the Czech Pen Club Jiří Dědeček
told the news agency ČTK Mr Gruša died in Hannover, Germany during heart
Jiří Gruša was born in Pradubice on November 10, 1938. He graduated from Charles University in Prague but was banned from publishing after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He signed the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and left the country in 1981 and lived in Germany. After the fall of communism, he served as the Czech ambassador to Germany and Austria, and also briefly as the minister of education. In 2003, he was elected the head of the International Pen club.
The Czech Army on Thursday officially ended its mission in Kosovo after 12 years in the country. The Czech troops were part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, established on the basis of a UN Security Council Resolution. Their main mission was to guard Kosovo’s borders, maintain law and order and protect towns and ethnic minorities against attacks by extremist groups. The last of the 8,000 Czech troops who served in the country since 1999 on Thursday symbolically handed over the keys of the city Sajkovac and for the last time lowered the Czech flag over the KFOR military base where they served. The Czech Army now only has troops in Afghanistan and a handful of officers serving as military observers in other states.
Goalkeeper Petr Čech helped his side Chelsea advance over Everton on Wednesday in round four of the Carling Cup. The Czech keeper came on in the second half after fellow Chelsea netminder Ross Turnbull tripped Louis Saha before the hour mark. Čech came on with only short warning but stopped Baines’ penalty which the player kicked to the centre of the goal. The Czech goalkeeper also stopped the rebound. Chelsea won the game in extra-time 2:1.
President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday granted seven pardons. His office said those pardoned had been selected on humanitarian grounds. Among the seven, are two Ukrainian nationals who were to have been extradited from the country. The President’s Office recently came under fire for Mr. Klaus’ choice in granting pardons with allegations that the system was corrupt. The president issued a vehement denial that the system could be open to corruption but some politicians have suggested the granting of pardons should be a shared responsibility with another independent body.
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