President's anniversary address under fire

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is facing criticism from a number of politicians, who say Friday's address marking the 87th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia was too political. Besides stressing that Czechs should value their independence, President Klaus warned of European integration and EU rules and regulations.

To Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek such anti-EU sentiment was misplaced as it is not shared by the majority of Czech citizens. The Communist Party's Pavel Kovacik believes the President took the opportunity to use the address as a pre-election speech - the general elections are to be held next year and the chances of a victory for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, which Mr Klaus founded, look promising. Most of the leading Czech press also criticised the presidential address, saying that Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president, would have supported European integration.

Prime Minister Paroubek hopes to come to compromise over St. Vitus Cathedral

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk on Friday evening in hopes of ending a 13 year long dispute between the Catholic Church and the state. Both claim to be the rightful owners of St. Vitus' Cathedral, one of Prague's main landmarks. Last week, a Prague district court ruled in favour of the church but the state plans to appeal the verdict.

The two-hour meeting between the prime minister and the cardinal failed to produce a compromise solution. Mr Paroubek proposed the Church declare the Cathedral is owned by the Czech nation but plays an important role in its management. The Catholic Church on the other hand recognised St Vitus' Cathedral as part of the cultural heritage of the Czech state and a symbol of Czech nationhood but insisted ownership rights be decided by a court.

Czech reception dubbed counter-revolutionary by Cuban authorities

A reception organised in Havana to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia had to be relocated to the Czech Ambassador's residence, the AFP news agency reported. The event, which initially was to be held in a luxurious hotel, was dubbed as counter-revolutionary because it was attended by wives and close friends of Cuban political prisoners. Hotel management refused to host the event following orders from the Cuban authorities.

Animal Liberation Front releases 1,000 animals from fur farm

The Animal Liberation Front says it is responsible for releasing into the wild over 1,000 foxes and minks that were bred at a fur farm near the eastern town of Svitava. Animal rights activists have welcomed the move but some fear the foxes will find it hard to survive in the wild. The farm owners say they have lost over one million crowns (a little under 41,000 US dollars) and will have to close down the business before they acquire new breeding animals.

Weather forecast

Temperatures over the next few days are expected to fall slightly to a maximum 16 degrees Celsius. Most days will have partially clear skies with some showers at the beginning of the week.