Prime Minister Gross inaugurates four new ministers

The new Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, inaugurated four new government ministers to their posts on Thursday, a day after the new cabinet was sworn in. Social Democrat Milada Emmerova has taken up the post of Health Minister and her party colleague Jiri Paroubek has replaced the chairman of the Freedom Union, Pavel Nemec, at the post of Local Development Minister. Pavel Nemec has assumed the post of Justice Minister. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross also inaugurated Frantisek Bublan to the post of Interior Minister, which he himself had held in the previous cabinet of the former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. The remaining new minister, Karel Kuehnl of the Freedom Union, is expected to assume his post of Defence Minister on Friday.

The other ministers in the 18-member cabinet had served under Mr Spidla in the last government. The new coalition cabinet, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.

Five Czechs die climbing Kyrgyz peak

Five Czech mountaineers died and one was injured as they were hit by an avalanche when climbing a peak in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday. The five Czechs and one Russian were among a party of at least 30 people who were climbing the 7,000-metre Khan Tengri peak in the Tien Shan Mountains. A spokesman for the local emergencies ministry said that another 20 people remained trapped at the avalanche site, about 3,000 metres up Khan Tengri. Rescuers had reached the avalanche site in the remote north-east of the country and were working to recover those still trapped, the spokesman said, adding that some of the party had already been rescued and were being delivered to hospital. In recent years the former Soviet republic's mountains have become increasingly popular with adventure tourists.

Senate rejects bill on compulsory maths test as part of school-leaving exam

The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, on Thursday rejected a bill stipulating that all high school students would have to pass a compulsory maths test as part of their school-leaving exams, the Czech "maturita". The bill was proposed by the lower house in June. The senators agreed on Thursday that students should be able to choose between maths and other subjects. Maths tests were compulsory for all students graduating from high schools until 1990.

Customs officers seize illicit tobacco, cigarettes

Customs officers in West Bohemia say they have seized almost 30 tonnes of tobacco meant for an illegal production of counterfeit cigarettes. The officers have also found over 1 million cigarettes and the equipment for the manufacture of cigarettes. The Czech Customs Authority said three Vietnamese nationals had been arrested during the operation.

Smicer fears career could be over after injury

Liverpool midfielder Vladimir Smicer fears the knee injury that has sidelined him for the next six months could spell the end of his career. The Czech international injured his right knee during Liverpool's tour of the United States and underwent surgery in Colorado last week. Smicer said he would be on crutches for the next two months, and would undergo daily rehabilitation on the knee.

Sparta Prague reach final qualifying round for Champions League

Sparta Prague football club are now one step away from the group stage in the Champions League, after beating APOEL of Cyprus 2:1 in the second leg of their second round qualifying tie in Prague on Wednesday night. That result gave Sparta a 4:3 win on aggregate, setting up a clash with Hungary's Ferencvaros for a place in the lucrative competition. The first leg takes place away next week.


Friday should be another hot and sunny day in most of the Czech Republic. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius.