The police have detained 24 illegal refugees, whom they found packed in the back of a lorry during a routine check on the D1 highway from Brno to Prague. Their detection caused a minor incident on the road when some of the refugees attacked the officers while the others ran for cover. Police re-enforcements finally rounded up the whole group. They are all Chinese nationals and have been placed in a detention centre, pending further questioning and possibly expulsion.
During its session on Thursday, the Czech government decided to increase the number of police patrols at various locations in Prague. Both the interior ministry and the Czech secret police say the enforcement is just a precaution and they have no reason to believe that there is a threat of attack against the Czech Republic. According to Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, security is to be heightened aaround the headquarters of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the city centre, department stores, the public transport network, and all strategic buildings. A special telephone hotline has also been opened by the foreign ministry for Czechs who have not been able to get in touch with their relatives in London.
The Czech cabinet also discussed a bilateral agreement with Austria on Thursday that would increase police cooperation. With the agreement, which is to be signed in mid-July, the interior ministries of both countries hope to join forces and combat crime more effectively. The document makes it easier to search for suspects across the borders and introduces joint border controls, in order to reduce the high number of illegal migrants believed to cross the borders every year.
Czech politicians have expressed their condolences and solidarity with Britain, in reaction to the terrorist attacks on London on Thursday. In a letter to the Queen, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is currently at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in west Bohemia, said the Czech Republic would join Britain to face those who, with cowardly practices, are trying to destroy the values that our civilization is based on. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek as well as the speakers of both houses of the Czech Parliament have said the attacks on the European continent prove that the international fight against terrorism has been imperative and must continue.
A state-funded international centre for clinical research will most likely be opened in the Moravian capital of Brno, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Martin Jahn said on Thursday. The plan is part of the National Innovation Policy, under which results of research are to be put into practice by 2010. This goal is to be reached by putting one percent of the GDP into research and development, making it easier to acquire grants, and making technology and mathematics subjects more attractive at universities. The policy was approved by the government on Thursday. Mr Jahn's office expects to present a more detailed plan on the establishment of the clinical research centre in the next month.
Tuesday was also a holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of SS Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the Czech Lands in the 9th century. While many people enjoyed the day off, it was a black one on the country's roads, with 11 people dying in accidents, the highest number for a single day so for this year. The authorities said the number of collisions may have been due to motorists being tired after driving long distances on the state holiday.
It is a state holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of the Czech
religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), who died on July 6, 1415. Services
dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Czech Evangelical and other
Protestant churches around the country, on this the 590th anniversary of
Born in south Bohemia, he studied in Prague before being made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. When Wycliffe's teachings were banned by the Church, Hus protested from the pulpit; he was declared a heretic and excommunicated, before being burnt at the stake.
In 1999 the late Pope John Paul II expressed regret for Hus's killing, though he was not rehabilitated.
A service was held at Bethlehem chapel in honour of Jan Hus on Wednesday, attended by the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek. President Vaclav Klaus, meanwhile, was among the congregation at a service in Husinec, south Bohemia, where the reformer was born around 1370.
The large statue of Hus on Prague's Old Town Square is to be lit up at night from today on.
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.