The town of Chrudim, in Eastern Bohemia, has placed a tank on its main square as a reminder of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia 40 years ago. The invasion, intended to crush the reform movement known as the Prague Spring, took place in the early hours of August 21st of 1968. Over 100 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the clash with foreign troops. Numerous commemorative ceremonies, exhibitions and debates are being held across the country to mark the anniversary.
Forty years after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic still has reason to fear Russia, Luboš Dobrovský, former ambassador to Moscow told Hospodařské Noviny. Mr. Dobrovský who served as the country’s ambassador to Russia in the late 1990s, said that it was important for the democratic community to jointly condemn Moscow’s use of force, otherwise the country would be tempted to provoke its neighbours again and again in view of depriving them of their independence. Russia will undoubtedly continue trying to restore its political, military and economic influence in its close neighbourhood, Mr. Dobrovský told the paper.
Experts predict that repairing the environmental damage caused by Soviet troops on Czechoslovak territory between 1968 and 1991 may take up until 2012. The occupying forces used 73 military areas and 60 of them were left in a very bad state. Since 1991 –when the last Soviet troops were withdrawn from Czech territory – the authorities poured 1.3 billion crowns into clean-up operations. Another 240 million will be required.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has welcomed a US-Polish agreement to station elements of a US missile defence shield on Polish soil. The site in Poland hosting ten interceptor rockets and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic will form the European part of a global system Washington says it is assembling to shoot down ballistic missiles it fears could be launched by "rogue" states or militant groups such as al-Qaeda. The Czech government agreed earlier this year to host the US tracking radar on Czech soil. However public opinion is against the radar and the agreement still needs to be approved by Parliament.
The Czech government will appeal the arbitration ruling in its dispute with Diag Human, a company trading in blood plasma, according to which the Czech Republic is to pay some nine billion crowns in compensation for having robbed the firm of lucrative business deals. In 1992, then Health Minister Martin Bojar dissuaded other European companies from doing business with Diag Human and the firm pressed charges. A court ruled that the Czech Republic should pay damages and apologise publicly. The state has subsequently appealed the ruling unsuccessfully on several occasions. Under Czech law, after an arbitration ruling is issued, the parties involved can submit a proposal for it to be reviewed by other arbitrators.
Forty years after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, 41 percent of Czechs say Russia could present a security threat to their country. In an opinion poll conducted in connection with the anniversary two thirds of Czechs said they did not think Russia was a democratic country and forty percent of respondents said it was to blame for the conflict over South Ossetia.
The Czech government on Wednesday strongly condemned Russia’s military
offensive in Georgia. Following a cabinet meeting devoted to the situation
in the Caucuses, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said that Georgia’s
independence and integrity must be respected and that Russia had violated
international law when it sent its troops over the border. At the request
of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg the government agreed to set
aside 150 million crowns in aid to Georgia to help restore the country’s
damaged infrastructure in the wake of Russia’s military offensive. It
also wants to organize a donors’ conference in order to provide further
assistance. The government and NGOs have already sent medicines and
humanitarian aid to the region.
The armed conflict over South Ossetia has divided Czech politicians. While the Foreign Ministry issued a statement in support of Georgia and condemned Moscow’s use of force, President Klaus said that Georgia was primarily to blame for provoking the armed conflict.
A police officer in Prague has been arrested on suspicion of raping a minor, according to the Czech Interior Ministry. The as yet unnamed officer was arrested on Monday and is believed to have committed at least one rape of a minor. If convicted the man could be jailed for between five to twelve years.
The Czech environmental NGO Hnutí Duha has made a formal complaint to the European Commission about Austrian logging practices on the southern Czech border. The organization believes that the Šumava region has been severely damaged by Austrian logging their side of the state boundary. The NGO has complained that the Austrian land-owners in the area, a company called Schlägl have created vast swathes of bare land both in Austria as well as in neighbouring Germany that literally directly frame the Czech border. While the Czech side is a protected national park, much of the land south of the border is not protected.
Collapse of Prague footbridge raises concerns regarding state of other bridges
Some like it hot: Czech Republic sees rise in number of household saunas
ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases
Czech protesters run out of patience as Prague brutalist building faces demolition