It is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, where Roman Catholics have
been remembering Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek brothers who brought
Christianity to the Czech Lands when they arrived in Moravia in 863. They
also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and
liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form;
the two are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
The Cyril and Methodius tradition was also an important element of the 19th century Czech national revival.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said after lunch with former president Vaclav Havel on Tuesday that the two men had very similar views on the European Union, and were in favour of the ratification of the EU's controversial first constitution. Mr Havel's support for the EU constitution is in contrast with the position of his successor Vaclav Klaus, who is strongly opposed to its adoption.
The biggest event commemorating Cyril and Methodius on Tuesday was the
traditional pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the
missionaries were based. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk conducted a special
service there which was attended by around 30,000 people, including
President Vaclav Klaus. Mr Klaus described Velehrad as an important
place in Czech history and a living memorial.
Wednesday will also be a state holiday in the Czech Republic, the anniversary of the death of religious reformer Jan Hus.
Bohumil Kulinsky says he is extremely unlikely to remain as director of the Bambini di Praga girls choir, whether or not he is found guilty of sexually abusing several members over a 16-year period. Mr Kulinsky is accused of having had sex with three of the choir and abusing 49 girls. He made the statement in a radio interview on Monday, a few days after being released from custody.
A new detention centre for young offenders - the first of its kind in the Czech Republic - has seen the arrival of its first wards - two teenage boys, both guilty of murder. One of the boys, just 13, killed an elderly women, the other a young girl. Both of the interned will undergo psychiatric tests and extensive counselling, receiving special education, and allowed occasional visits. Authorities hope to be able to rehabilitate underage criminals by age 18. The new detention centre, specifically designed for young offenders, can intern up to 12 youths at one time. The centre is said to have been designed to appear less threatening than a prison, with for example, unbreakable glass windows instead of bars. At the same time, cameras monitor almost all areas: the exception being personal rooms and washroom areas.
President Vaclav Klaus signed into a bill on Monday giving the Lower House of Parliament greater freedom to check cases of police wire-tapping, or bugging. Until now the Lower House's commission monitoring police wiretapping required a 'go ahead' from the Interior Minister. Under the legislation the commission will be allowed to check the details of any wiretapping case, whether ordered by the courts or by state attorneys.
Czech tennis player Jana Novotna, a fresh winner of the women's "over-35" doubles with Tracy Austin at Wimbledon on Saturday, will be inducted to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Novotna, who won 16 grandslam doubles and mixed-doubles titles throughout her career, will be inducted along with players Jim Courier and Yannick Noah. Novotna's most emotional win and career peak came in 1998 when she won the Wimbledon singles final.
A spokeswoman has revealed that the government agency CzechInvest mediated 70 new domestic and foreign investment projects in the first half of 2005 worth almost 25 billion crowns, or the equivalent of almost 1 billion dollars US. The investments are expected to create up to 8,000 new jobs in coming years. CzechInvest says the number of projects is ten higher than a year ago although the volume of investments has remained the same. Roughly a third of investors are heading for northern Bohemia, a region with the highest unemployment in the Czech Republic. The major investors include Germany, the US, the Czech Republic, and Great Britain. Major areas for investments are the auto industry, electronics, engineering, and chemicals and plastics.
Two helicopters, the Croatian coastguard, as well as a number of
volunteers have been searching for a Czech tourist who went missing on
Sunday off the Croatian coast, near the island of Brac. The young
tourist was reportedly swimming with an inflatable mattress when he was
pushed out into the Adriatic by 100 kilometre winds. So far authorities
have searched an area of approximately sixteen square kilometres but
have been unable to find any sign of the swimmer.
The incident is similar to other developments on Sunday when, for example, a group of four Czech tourists was also swept out on an inflatable mattress and raft - but was rescued.
Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has asked the Chief State Prosecutor to prepare a comprehensive analysis on legal issues surrounding the long-term detention of suspects on the grounds that, if allowed out on bail, they could influence witnesses. The Justice Minister's request followed a Constitutional Court ruling that led to the release on Friday of Bohumil Kulinsky, the Bambini di Praga choirmaster charged with sexually abusing some 50 underage girls under his tutelage. Mr Kulinsky had been held in prison for over six months while awaiting trial. A justice ministry spokesman said that Nemec believes that the option of pre-trial detention has been abused by prosecutors. The Justice Minister wants to know the number of people placed into custody over the past 5 to 10 years and the reason for their pre-trial detention, said the spokesman.