Who is the biggest Czech villain? How small is the smallest tree in the Czech Republic? And, the handsome aqua bellos: men who excel at synchronized swimming. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

As you may already have heard, Czechs voting in the Greatest Czech of all time competition are inclined to favour fictitious heroes, such as the Good Soldier Schweik or Jara Cimrman. Ironically, they are now also voting in The Greatest Czech Villain of all time - and, believe it or not - they have no trouble at all picking real people. Czech Television which is the organizer of both contests, ruled out fictitious heroes in the Greatest Czech of all time, but said it would tolerate them in the villain competition. However Czechs haven't taken advantage of the offer, and are taking a great delight in picking real-life villains, almost all of them from Czech politics. Public disgust with Czech politics is apparent in the number of villain votes for Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, Christian Democratic Party leader Miroslav Kalousek, and even President Vaclav Klaus. Others on the villains list are former communist politicians and Viktor Kozeny the man known as the Pirate of Prague.

The Czech Foreign Ministry has been racking its brains over what architectural jewel should represent the Czech Republic at the Mini-Europe pavilion in Brussels. The expo of 350 mini-models should be a collection of the very best European architecture has to offer. In the running were: Prague Castle, The Old Town Hall and Ginger and Fred, among others. It was allegedly a tough choice to make but the Foreign Ministry has come to a decision and the winner is: the Prague Town Hall with its famous tower clock -or horologe- dating back to 1410. Every hour, on the hour the Town Hall is surrounded by tourists craning their necks as they look up at the two small windows in the uppermost part of the horologe where, as the clock chimes the hour, you can see a procession of apostles going by. The Town Hall itself is a Gothic/neo-Renaissance complex of buildings expanded in the course of time. It first served as the seat of the town hall in 1338 when it was just a Gothic corner house to which a tower was added in 1364. A chapel was later added to its eastern side. In the latter half of the 14th century the Town Hall was enlarged by the addition of another house, later decorated with a Renaissance window above which you can read the Latin inscription "Praga - caput regni," Prague, the capital of the kingdom. Many more reconstructions followed in later centuries and you can see the result for yourselves - either in Prague - or, in due time, on small scale, in Brussels. The model should be ready and installed by the end of this year.

Photo: CTK
Did you think that the so called "aqua bella" synchronized swimming was only for women? Well, it no longer is. Men have taken it up with a vengeance and the first men's championship held over the weekend here in Prague proved that they can be extremely good at it. Taking part were teams from Holland, Sweden, France and the Czech Republic. France won the Men's Cup hands down, with the Czech Republic capturing the silver medal, and the Dutch getting the bronze. The Czech team got a roar of enthusiastic approval from the crowd, as they turned up in striped swimming trunks which were fashionable at the start of the 2oth century and performed to music from the Vltava, from Smetana's cycle of symphonic poems My Country. In their striped trunks they looked more like jailbirds than water nymphs but the audience loved it.

A dog miraculously survived a trip through the underground tunnels of the Prague metro last week, managing to find his own way out after about an hour. Traffic was first halted and then restricted along the C line of the Prague metro when eyewitnesses reported that a dog had wondered into the tunnel at IP Pavlova station and disappeared from sight. Police officers and firemen spent an hour playing hide and seek with the dog which appeared at a number of other stations before plunging back into the darkness of the tunnel again. It was seen at Ladvi, Florenc and Museum, before it decided it had had enough and raced out of the metro. Train drivers were on the look out for the animal with metro trains moving at a much slower pace than usual, but metro employees say it was a miracle the animal was not hit. Two years ago a pet monkey spent two days in the tunnels before being rescued, dying of exhaustion and cold just hours after she was found.

A forty six year old man from Jihlava claims to own the smallest tree in the world. The tree is a Monanthes Polyphylla, a species that grows on the Canary Islands. Jiri Janda's specimen was planted in the hollow of a stone which is just one and a half centimetres wide. The tree itself is 2.5 cms tall and just 3cms wide in its crown. Mr. Janda says he waters it once a week and hopes to get it into the Guinness Book of Records. In any case if you are listening to us here in the Czech Republic you can see the tiny tree for yourself at the Pelhrimov Festival of Records and Curiosities in June.

The local cinema house in Jicin has opened an interesting expo in its foyer. The expo is really a bizarre collection of objects which cinema goers have forgotten in or under their seats in the past weeks and months. Of course, there are boxes of forgotten hats, gloves and even mobiles in an empty store room, which no one would think of exhibiting. It was the bizarre objects that one would never expect to find that prompted the idea of an exhibition of lost and found items. These include: a police truncheon, a ladies shoe, a fake hand grenade, and a rubber stamp. It would seem that police officers, terrorists, bureaucrats and some women are extremely absent minded in the Czech Republic.