Delegates at district conferences of the Social Democratic Party held in the towns of Hodonin and Breclav in south Moravia, have voted in favour of Labour & Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach's taking over as head of the Social Democrat Party next year. Mr Skromach has already announced plans to challenge Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for the chairmanship at the party's convention in the spring. At the weekend Mr Skromach took part in meetings in both districts, presenting a plan for the Social Democratic Party to return to its left-of-centre roots.
Otherwise, there are indications that most district organisations continue to support Prime Minister Gross. Mr Skromach does have some high-profile backers, namely retired politician and former prime minister Milos Zeman.
The outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is set to arrive in Prague on Monday evening ahead of talks on Tuesday with Czech politicians including Justice Minister Pavel Nemec and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. Among other things the Czech justice minister and his U.S. counterpart will work to negotiate a new treaty on extradition. The current treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic dates back to 1920s Czechoslovakia and a new basis for cooperation between the two countries needs to be adopted, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry has said.
Around 70 Russian children and adults on recuperative stay in Karlovy Vary following the tragedy in Russia's Beslan visited the west Bohemian town of Pilsen on Sunday. Visiting sites included Pilsen's zoo. Most of the children and parents invited for the four-week stay in the Czech Republic lost friends or loved ones in the hostage-taking and terrorist stand-off in Beslan, in September, in which terrorists killed 330 people. Of those, 172 were children.
Czech specialists say the children on stay in Karlovy Vary have adapted well, but continue to show deeply-ingrained trauma, evident in their drawings of bombs, graves, and war.
One of the parents told the press on Sunday that returning home would be difficult, that parents would once again fear for their children there.
Icy conditions are more than likely to have been a factor in a five-car pile-up in the north Bohemian region of Usti nad Labem on Sunday that left three injured and transported to hospital in Litomerice. One of the cars caught fire in the crash, but was soon put out by fire fighters arriving at the scene.
The Czech awards ceremony Cesky slavik - or the Czech Nightingale - held in Prague on Saturday has seen a repeat of winners from 2003: Lucie Bila clinched the title of best female singer while the best musical group award went to Czech heavy metal band Kabat. Czech singer Karel Gott won for a notable 30th time in his extensive career, while young star Aneta Langerova, the winner of the Czech Republic's first ever Pop Idol, was voted best newcomer. Cesky slavik winners are chosen through a public poll: this year some 94,000 Czechs took part.
Besides featuring Czech stars the awards evening also saw performances by Norwegian singer Kurt Nilsen and Ukrainian star Ruslana.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda built on a fairly successful first day of ski jumping by placing 3rd in a second World Cup event in Harrachov, north-east Bohemia, on Sunday. In Sunday's competition Janda came third, with jumps of 140 and 136.5 metres. His medal finish is his third on the World Cup circuit so far this year. Finn Janne Ahonen clinched the top spot with jumps of 140 and 141 metres.
The new week will continue to see cloudy weather with daytime temperatures staying below zero, at around -2 degrees Celsius.
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