The Czech Republic marks the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of
Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia on Friday, a
public holiday. Thousands of people attended a Catholic mass at Velehrad,
the capitol of the erstwhile Moravian empire. The mass, celebrated by Czech
and foreign Catholic dignitaries, was also attended by Czech President
Miloš Zeman. In a message marking the occasion, Pope Francis asked Czechs
to appreciate their Christian roots and build a society of tolerance and
Around 750 city and town halls in Moravia hoisted the Moravian flag on Friday to mark the anniversary. On Thursday, the celebrations started with a charity concert in Velehrad by the Zlín philharmonic orchestra and a number of other performers.
Czech hockey forward Patrik Eliáš has signed a three-year contract with the New Jersey Devils in the NHL, the club where he spent the last 17 seasons. Eliáš said in a statement he was excited to be back with New Jersey, and felt special to be a member of one organization his entire career. He is set to earn 16.5 million US dollars over the next three years; his previous, seven-year contract with the Devils expired earlier this year. The 37-year-old Czech has appeared in 1090 games for the New Jersey Devils, winning the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2003.
Two sections of the country’s major D1 motorway between Prague and Brno is set to close for traffic for 14 hours on Friday night due to reconstruction works. Six bridges over the road will be demolished, part of major renovation the motorway will undergo over the next four years. The sections to close until Saturday morning are located near Brno and in Central Bohemia; traffic will be diverted onto local roads for the duration of the works.
Some 25,000 children are set to go on summer camps organized by the Czech Scouts and Guides this summer, the group said on Friday. The number of their camps has grown to over 1,000, despite the economic crunch felt by many families. The camps last some 15 days on average, and cost between 800 and 1,000 crowns per child and week. Last year, around 170,000 children went to summer camps organized by schools and various groups.
Prime minister designate Jiří Rusnok has filled three more ministerial posts in the emerging caretaker cabinet. Outgoing defense minister Vlastimil Picek, who has received an offer to continue in office, has agreed to do so. Jiří Cienciala, the rector of the Ostrava School for Entrepreneurs, is to head the Industry and Trade Ministry while the former chief inspector of Czech Railways Zdeněk Žák will lead the Transport Ministry. Mr. Rusnok has not yet filled the post of finance minister and there has been speculation he may be considering former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer for the post. The post of environment minister is likewise still vacant. The new cabinet is to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Responding to developments in Egypt, the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it is closely monitoring the situation and is concerned by the deep polarization of the Egyptian society in the course of the transformation process. The ministry urges a speedy restoration of democratic processes in Egypt by free and fair elections. It strongly condemns all acts of violence, especially violence against women, and firmly hopes that the security forces will take effective measures to protect the population.
The Boston Bruins, in a reversal, may try and again sign Czech hockey player Jaromír Jágr, several news sites report. Jágr was slated to leave the team following the Bruins’ defeat in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals – a move originally confirmed by General Manager Peter Chiarelli. But after forward Nathan Horton said he wanted to test the market, Chiarelli reacted by suggesting the club might rethink its position. Jágr went scoreless throughout the playoffs but was crucial on key plays, not least in games that went down the wire.
Thousands of people are streaming to the Velehrad pilgrimage site to attend celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to spread the Christian faith and lay the foundations of literacy with the Glagolitic alphabet. A divine mass at the Velehrad basilica at midday Thursday was attended by high church dignataries, the papal legate, Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb, state dignitaries and foreign diplomats. The Days of People of Goodwill include a number of cultural events, a concert, exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Hundreds of officers are helping to direct traffic to the pilgrimage site.
The Czech Pirate Party has asked the Czech Interior Ministry to offer
political asylum to American whistleblower Edward Snowden who leaked
details of the U.S. Prism mass surveillance programme to the press. The
party sent the outgoing Interior Minister Jan Kubice an open letter asking
the ministry to publicly condemn the U.S. surveillance practices and
the public that the Czech intelligence services are not involved in
Snowden, a former CIA contractor, confessed that he had revealed details of the top-secret Prism programme of the US government, including the monitoring of Internet and phone communication, to the media. The U.S. State Department has accused him of espionage and theft of official documents. Snowden is presently in a transit area of the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow and has applied for political asylum in over 20 countries.
Passenger car sales in the Czech Republic fell by 14 percent in the first half of this year, representatives of the Car Importers Association said at a press conference on Thursday. In June alone, passenger cars sales reportedly dropped by one fifth. Skoda Auto sales decreased by 18 percent, Hyundai saw a 5 percent drop, followed by Volkswagen with a 2 percent fall in sales. Customers bought mainly small and mini cars, which accounted for almost one quarter of overall sales.
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