Czechs mark national holiday
People in the Czech Republic on Saturday marked the eighty-second anniversary of the founding of an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks in 1918. During its existence, the now-defunct common state split up twice and its name was changed eight times. The final and definitive split occurred on 1 January 1993. Since then, Czech-Slovak relations have seen ups and downs but above-standard relations have been resumed lately. Slovakia's Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan has told Czech Radio that current relations are excellent. There have been miscellaneous rallies, marches and demonstrations to mark the national holiday. Some of them were organised by nationalists and anarchists, police were on standby but no incidents have been reported. President Vaclav Havel inspected a parade of new army recruits taking their oath in Prague. Celebrations were held also at the Czech and Slovak pavilions at the Expo 2000 world fair in Hanover.
Forty Czechs and foreign nationals have received high state distinctions from President Havel, some of them posthumously. The distinctions -- the White Lion Order, the Masaryk Order named for the founding president of Czechoslovakia, and medals for bravery and distinguished service -- were awarded during a ceremony in the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle. Among the awardees were two investigative journalists working in difficult conditions in conflict areas including Kosovo, Chechnya and East Timor.
The American astronaut James Lovell, commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, has paid a visit to the birthplace of his grandparents near the West Bohemian city of Plzen. Seventy-two-year old Lovell's grandparents, Jan and Maria Masek, left the village of Dolni Lukavice for the United States at the end of the 19th century. The astronaut, who's been to space four times, met with eight relatives and crowds of local residents eager to hear how it feels to be back in his ancestral land and what happened to Apollo 13, which made an emergency landing 30 years ago following an abortive mission to the Moon.
Radio Prague begins its new Russian-language service on Sunday. The broadcasts will be geared towards listeners across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Until now, Radio Prague, the external service of the public broadcasting network Czech Radio, has broadcast on short waves, via satellite and on the Internet for international listeners in Czech, English, German, French and Spanish. Its English shows are available also on FM here in the Czech Republic. The chief objective of Radio Prague is to give listeners a true picture about this country and its international activities while remaining loyal to its tradition of democracy and freedom.
Like most of European countries, the Czech Republic sets the clock back early on Sunday to standard time, ending daylight-saving or summer time. At 3 a.m. clocks are set back to 2 a.m. in all of Europe except Estonia, Iceland and Latvia. Central Europe goes back to Central European Time. Central European Summer Time returns on March 25 next year, and will run through October 28.
And finally, the weather: Sunday will be a cloudy day here in the Czech Republic, with early morning lows between three and seven degrees Celsius and afternoon highs between 12 and 16 degrees. We expect patchy morning fogs. Monday morning will be also misty but the skies will clear up during the day. Early morning lows will be from three to seven Celsius, afternoon highs between 12 and 16 degrees.
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