One hundred and sixteen soldiers of the occupying armies of the Warsaw Pact died on Czechoslovak territory during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia launched on August 21st, the daily Hospodarské Noviny writes on the eve of the anniversary. The paper says that the vast majority died in traffic accidents or by mishandling their weapon in a skirmish. Only one was killed by a local protesting against the invasion. Historians estimate that over 100 Czechs and Slovaks were killed in the first days and weeks of the Soviet-led invasion.
The former director of the National Technical Museum, Horymír Kubíček, who was sacked by the culture minister on Thursday, is suspected of enriching himself at the museum’s expense. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes said the former general director increased his salary several-fold by giving himself undeserved monthly and annual bonuses. The paper wrote that the official was making as much as the country’s president. There are also claims that several exhibits from the museum have gone missing. The culture minister, Jiří Besser, has sent in independent auditors.
Senior Czech and Polish officials on Friday unveiled a monument in Prague honouring a Pole who died in 1968 after setting himself on fire to protest the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The monument commemorates Ryszard Siwiec, who set himself alight on September 8, 1968 in a packed stadium in the Polish capital Warsaw, where a crowd of 100,000 including senior communist leaders were attending a festival. Poland's communist regime took part in the invasion, sparking the desperate step by Siwiec, a veteran of the non-communist World War II resistance. The father of five died of burns on September 12, 1968.
An ultra-light plane crashed in a field in the suburbs of Prague on Friday. The plane was coming down for a landing at the Letnany airfield when the accident occurred. The pilot sustained serious injuries. Although the accident happened not far from the Letnany metro station, no one else was at risk and traffic in the vicinity was not restricted. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Pruhonice park, located on the outskirts of Prague, is to be included in the UNESCO-protected Prague town reserve, according to a decision made at a recent meeting of the UNESCO commission in Brazil. The Czech Culture Ministry and the park’s management have welcomed the news saying it would help protect and improve on one of Europe’s largest landscape parks. Pruhonice, which covers more than 200 hectares, has a valuable collection of plants from all over the world.
The head of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, Ivan
Hodač, is a hot candidate for the newly-established post of state
secretary for EU affairs, the daily Lidové Noviny wrote in its Friday
edition. Although the prime minister has not officially confirmed the
choice, the paper says the Civic Democrat’s coalition partners, TOP O9
and Public Affairs, were consulted about his candidacy. The state secretary
for EU affairs is to be answerable directly to the prime minister and the
post will be filled by a Civic Democrat appointee.
Mr Hodač, who is 64, emigrated to Denmark after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He graduated from Copenhagen University, majoring in economics and political sciences. He speaks seven foreign languages.
A family of three are in critical condition after consuming poisonous wild mushrooms. Kromeříž hospital, where they were admitted with symptoms of severe food poisoning, had them transferred by helicopter to Brno where there is a unit specializing in such cases. Mushroom picking is a national pastime which thousands of Czechs engage in during the summer months. People are repeatedly warned not to pick mushrooms they do not recognize.
Cost-cutting measures in the public sector are also likely to affect priests and church employees. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has proposed cutting their monthly salaries by 10 percent, which would save the state budget 90 million crowns annually. The move would affect close to 5,000 priests, who stand to lose approximately 1,500 crowns a month. The average salary of a priest is just over 13,000 crowns a month; the lowest is 9, 600 crowns.
MPs will no longer be paid for being on the supervisory boards of state run companies and institutions, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told Friday’s Hospodářské noviny. Mr. Nečas told the newspaper he planned to put a stop to the practice since it went against the conflict of interest law. In recent years deputies on supervisory boards made hundreds of thousands of crowns monthly on the side, arguing that the institution in question was a public rather than state institution, or that it was not a company but a fund. The prime minister said he had no intention of tolerating the practice in future.
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