A Czech soldier was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday. He died in
hospital after a roadside bombing which wounded four other Czech soldiers,
one of them seriously. The troops, who were travelling in a Humvee military
vehicle when the attack occurred, were serving with a Czech Provincial
Reconstruction Team in the province of Logar, south-east of Kabul. In March
a military policeman became the first Czech combat casualty of the modern
era when he was killed in a suicide attack in Helmand province. Last year
another Czech soldier died in Afghanistan in an accident caused by
Before news of Wednesday’s attack, the lower house of the Czech parliament voted to send more troops to Afghanistan. Around 100 members of a special forces unit are to be sent to the war-torn state. That comes on top of a deployment of over 400 Czech soldiers approved last year.
A number of May Day events were held in the Czech Republic on Thursday, which was a state holiday. Left-wing political parties the Communists and the Social Democrats held rallies to mark the workers’ holiday. Far-right groups and anarchists also held gatherings. In Brno police confiscated hammer and sickle flags from the Young Communists, who are outlawed. No disturbances were reported at any of the gatherings.
A 27-year-old man died after apparently setting himself on fire at a traditional čarodějnice (witch-burning) celebration in the village of Vesce in south Moravia. Revellers spotted the man on fire near the bonfire at the centre of the celebration, and attempted to douse the flames. However, he died on the scene of third degree burns. Police said the man’s clothes smelled of petrol and that it appeared to be a case of suicide.
A Czech Army military parade in Prague in October marking the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia will also feature Slovak and French troops, the Czech Ministry of Defence has announced. Czech fire and police officers will also participate in the one-hour parade, which is set to take place at Prague Castle on October 28. Soviet style large-scale military inspections began in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, though the Czech Army pointed out that parades were also held in the inter-war period known as the First Republic. This year’s event will be a one-off.
The Czech football star Pavel Nedvěd is to announce next week whether he is willing to return to the national team for the European Championship in Switzerland and Austria. The midfielder’s Italian agent told a Czech newspaper that the player should be given time and space to make his decision calmly. Nedvěd, who turns 36 in August, retired from international football after the 2006 World Cup. He scored 18 goals in 91 games for the Czech Republic.
The Czech international football goalkeeper Petr Čech has reached the final of the Champions League with his club Chelsea. Čech made a couple of fine saves but also conceded one soft goal in Chelsea’s 3:2 win over Liverpool on Wednesday night, a result which gave the Blues a 4:3 win on aggregate. Three years ago Milan Baroš and Vladimír Šmicer became the first Czechs to win club football’s most prestigious competition with Liverpool. Last year AC Milan’s Marek Jankulovski became the third.
The coalition government has, as expected, survived a vote of no-confidence tabled by the opposition Social Democrats. That party, former member Evžen Snítilý and the Communists voted for the motion, though their combined 98 votes were not enough to topple the three-party government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. It was the third Social Democrat-tabled no confidence vote survived by the Civic Democrat-led coalition.
Prague’s Ruznyně airport is to get train and underground rail links in the coming decade, according to a plan signed by senior city and national officials. A train connection from Masaryk station in the centre of Prague to the airport and the town of Kladno should be completed by 2013. However, it is not yet clear how the train link, named AirCon, will be financed. Meanwhile, the A or green line of the Prague metro system will be extended to reach Prague Airport by 2016.
More than 1,000 police officers are set to monitor 35 events planned for Prague on Thursday, a state holiday in the Czech Republic. There will be strong police presences at a number of demonstrations organised by neo-Nazis, nationalists, anarchists and the Communist Party. The reason there are so many events announced for May Day this year is that Prague’s Jewish Community has acquired permission for gatherings in two dozen places, in order to prevent the far right from “booking” those spots.
Prague City Court has upheld a ruling under which St Vitus’s Cathedral was adjudged to be the property of the Czech state. In September a Prague District Court said the Prague Castle cathedral and adjacent property belonged to the state. That decision overturned previous rulings under which the Roman Catholic church was declared the owner of the most visited cathedral in the Czech Republic. A spokesperson said the church was planning to appeal against the latest verdict.