A pilgrimage walk and mass have been held in the town of Stará Boleslav to mark the anniversary of the murder of the patron saint of the Czech Republic St Václav, or Wenceslas, in the year 935. The Czech president, Václav Klaus, was among the 700 or so people who took part, with turnout lower than usual due to wet weather. In Prague there will be a rare screening of a restored 1930 silent film about St Wenceslas at the city’s Rudolfinum. Other events have been held elsewhere around the country on Tuesday, which is the day of Czech statehood and a national holiday.
Rivers have been rising in north, central and eastern Bohemia after days of heavy rainfall. The highest level of flood alert is in effect in several places, while two dozen people were evacuated from their homes in Višňov in north Bohemia. A benefit event to raise money for schools damaged in nearby Frýdlant in flooding in the area at the start of August was called off. Forecasters say it should rain every day for the next week.
The Czech Republic will pull all of its soldiers out of Kosovo next summer, unless the security situation deteriorates, the Czech defence minister, Alexandr Vondra, said during a visit to a Czech base there on Monday. Mr Vondra said numbers were already being reduced significantly, with 270 departing in October, leaving less than 100 Czech soldiers in Kosovo. At the same time as the mission in the former province of Serbia is winding down, the Czech government is planning to beef up the country’s military presence in Afghanistan by nearly a third.
The Czech state will pay CZK 50 million (over USD 2.7 million) of the debts accrued by the organisers of the 2009 Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, says the minister of education, sport and youth, Josef Dobeš. Mr Dobeš told the news website aktualne.cz that his ministry would put forward half that amount, while the Ministry of Finance would come up with another CZK 25 million. However, the finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, said the taxpayer should not be left to pick up the tab. The organising committee of the cross country skiing event, led by former Olympic champion Kateřina Neumannová, ran up debts totalling CZK 108 million.
An open day at the Blanka tunnel currently under construction in Prague attracted over 16,000 visitors on Tuesday, a spokesperson for builders Metrostav told reporters. Work had been halted on what was a state holiday, allowing tours of three sections. The tunnel, which is part of a Prague ring road, should be opened in late 2012. The project has caused some disruption and led to land caving in on three occasions.
The director of the Bohemian National Hall and Czech Center in New York says he is leaving the post because he had not been given the power to get things done at the institution. Petr Fejk said he had not seen eye-to-eye with the management of the Czech Centre network in Prague. The former head of Prague zoo said decision-making in connection with the Bohemian National Hall was overly complicated, adding that what it needed was directness and a boss with real powers.
A fire broke out at the venue for the final stages of the women’s basketball world championships in the Czech town of Karlovy Vary on Monday. There were a few hundred people in the KV Arena when the electrical fire started. One person had to be taken to hospital after inhaling smoke. Team training sessions on Monday afternoon were moved to another venue, though an exhibition game went ahead as planned in the evening.
The Czech Republic reached the last 16 stage of the women’s basketball world championships after a 96:65 win over South Korea in Brno on Monday evening. On Tuesday night the Czechs will take on Spain for a place in the quarter-finals. There had been worries that the Czech captain Hana Horáková would miss Tuesday’s game after she picked up an ankle injury against South Korea, but the team’s coaches have said she should be fit in time.
The American rock band Guns N' Roses did not begin a show at Prague’s O2 Arena on Monday until almost midnight. Up to 1,000 fans had already left the venue before the group started a two-and-a-half-hour concert featuring hits such as Paradise City and a cover of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, as well as songs from their most recent album Chinese Democracy.
Three bells rang out at the church of St Jakub in the south Bohemian town of Týn nad Vltavou for the first time in 68 years on Tuesday. Only one of the church’s original bells from the 17th century had remained after two of them were melted down to make weapons in World War II. Local people decided a year ago to rectify the situation and had two new bells made; one weighs 1,300 kg, while the second is rather lighter at 740 kg.