Daily news summary News

08-05-2005

Czechs commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII

Ceremonies have been taking place around the Czech Republic on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On Sunday morning President Vaclav Klaus, other politicians and war veterans attended a memorial ceremony at the National Memorial on Vitkov Hill in Prague to remember those who gave their lives.

On Saturday evening President Klaus also met Czech veterans at Prague Castle, and honoured six of them by promoting them to the rank of general, as well as a further three in memoriam. In a speech he warned against attempts to rewrite the history of the Second World War, and to equate the perpetrators with the victims.

Ceremonies have also been taking place to remember foreign troops, from both the Red Army and the western Allied armies, who gave their lives during the liberation of Czechoslovakia. Around 100,000 people also attended celebrations in Plzen on Saturday to remember the liberation of the city by American troops. Among those attending commemorations in the Czech Republic is the vice-president of the European Commission, Margot Wallstrom.

Alongside various memorial ceremonies, there have also been several re-enactments of historical events, including the bloody battle on Vinohradska Street for control of the radio building during the Prague Uprising, and on Sunday morning thousands of people braved unseasonally cold weather at Prague's Letna Plain for a huge historical military parade. The parade was also the first chance for the people of Prague to see some of the Czech Republic's new fleet of Gripen supersonic fighter aircraft in the air during a fly-past.

Government spokeswoman resigns after claims that her official resume included inaccurate information

The government spokeswoman Veronika Skorepova has resigned following reports in the Czech media that she had padded her official resume. Ms Skorepova was previously assistant to the newly appointed Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, during his tenure as local development minister. Czech media had reported on Friday that she had listed on her resume at least one organisation for which she had never worked. Ms Skorepova said she had been the target of a "negative media campaign" and denied that she had false information in her resume. She said was leaving her post only because she did not want to discredit the new government in any way.

Havel denies signing an open letter criticizing Russia

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has denied earlier reports that he signed an open letter attacking Russia's record on democracy and political freedom. Mr Havel said that although he had not signed the letter, he could sympathize with anyone pointing out the deep ambiguities of the Soviet liberation of Eastern Europe at the end of the war. The letter's 75 signatories include former prime ministers of Soviet bloc countries like Estonia, as well as current and former politicians from both Europe and the United States. It is to be published in the UK's Financial Times newspaper on May 9, to coincide with ceremonies in Moscow marking the end of the Second World War. The signatories accuse Russia of betraying the principles behind the victory against Nazi Germany 60 years ago.

Czechs beat Slovaks 5-1 in ice hockey World Championship

The Czech national hockey team crushed the previously unbeaten Slovak team 5-1 on Saturday night at the World Championship in Vienna. Scoring for the Czech team were Petr Sykora (in minute 2'), Martin Straka(15'), Martin Rucinsky (31'), Ales Hemsky (32') and Pavel Kubina ('33). The Czech team remains undefeated in the championship, with previous wins against Switzerland, Germany and Kazakhstan in the first group stage. Saturday's match against the Slovaks was their first real test. The Czech team has now secured a spot in the quarter-finals.

Weather

It's very cold, showery and windy in the Czech Republic, with heavy snow falling in the mountains in the east of the country, and we can expect the unsettled weather to remain over the coming days with temperatures no higher than the low teens.

08-05-2005