The Czech Republic is marking the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. A traditional commemorative ceremony took place on Wednesday morning in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská St., attended by Prime Minister Jíří Rusnok, outgoing chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament Miroslava Němcová and other dignitaries. Various civic associations will hold related events on the main squares of the capital and elsewhere around the country. Over 100 Czechoslovaks were killed in the invasion, when an estimated 500,000 soldiers invaded their country in the early hours of August 21 1968 in order to quell the Prague Spring reform movement.
Czech title-holders Viktoria Plzeň beat Slovenian side Maribor 3:1 on Tuesday evening in the first leg of a tie to decide a place in world soccer’s biggest club competition the Champions League. A late goal from Michal Ďuriš boosted the hosts’ chances ahead of the second leg, which will take place in Slovenia on Wednesday next week. The West Bohemian club first reached the Champions League in 2011, the same year they won the Czech league for the first time, and last season topped a Europa League group that included Italy’s Napoli.
Dagmar Navrátilová, the deputy chairwoman of the liberal democratic party LIDEM has said that her party will most likely try to form a partnership with another party for the early elections. The founder and first chairwoman of the party, Karolina Peake, resigned from her post in early August due to differences of opinion with the other LIDEM MPs. One of the smallest parties in the outgoing Chamber of Deputies will meet on Thursday to decide on a strategy for the early elections, which are expected to be held at the end of October.
Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka has stopped the delivery of CZ P-07 handguns to the Egyptian Interior Ministry. The company has a year-long contract to deliver 50 thousand handguns and hundreds of submachine guns for the police force in Egypt. Since the beginning of recent clashes between government forces and protesters, the non-profit organization Amnesty International has called on all countries exporting weapons to Egypt, which could be used by the police or military against protesters, to seize deliveries. Zbrojovka, which had already delivered at least 15 thousand handguns to the country, agreed to suspend the contract.
Irish singer Glen Hansard performed on the terrace at Prague Castle’s Riding School on Tuesday night. Hansard, who was promoting his first solo album Rhythm and Repose, was backed by members of The Frames, the band that he has led for over two decades. The musician, who is 43, won an Oscar with the Czech singer Markéta Irglová for the song Falling Slowly and has been a regular visitor to the Czech Republic for many years. Tuesday’s show, which is part of a new initiative to bring live music to Prague Castle, was sold out.
In the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, unknown artists painted a monument to Soviet soldiers pink and wrote “Bulgaria is sorry!” in Czech and Bulgarian under it on Tuesday night. According to a Bulgarian server Dariknews, the artists did this on the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces in order to underline the role of the Bulgarian armed forces in the invasion. The Bulgarian government was one of the strongest proponents of the invasion in 1968, and it was also one of the last countries involved to formally apologize after the regime change.
The Senate has rejected the candidacy of the chairman of Prague’s municipal court Jan Sváček for a seat on the Constitutional Court for the second time on Wednesday. Although president Miloš Zeman came to the Senate on Wednesday to personally support his candidate, Mr. Sváček received only 30 out of 75 votes, eight votes short of the needed majority. He had already been nominated by former president Václav Klaus, but failed to win support in the Senate last February.
Two companies from Zlín have been selected to build the state-of-the-art scientific center Biocev in the village of Vestec near Prague. Zlínstav and POZIMOS signed an almost 750 million crown contract with Charles University and the Department of Molecular Genetics of the Academy of Science on Wednesday. The biotechnological and biomedical center BIOCEV will be mostly paid for from EU funds. The construction of the top-of-the-line international research and innovation should begin within a month and should be finished by the spring of 2015.
Police in the town of Jirkov in north Bohemia on Monday night shot dead a man who was holding a hostage, a spokesperson for the local force said. The man is reported to have held his victim, believed to be his former girlfriend, for two days and threatened to kill her. Police said they had suspected the man of rape, deprivation of liberty, blackmail and hostage taking. The case is now being investigated by the police’s internal affairs agency.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus will return to politics by joining forces with the small Sovereignty party, Právo has reported, adding that the new grouping will be known as Václav Klaus’s Sovereignty. For her part, the founder of Sovereignty, Jana Bobošíková, said on Tuesday that they were interested in cooperating with Mr. Klaus but that he was not going to “join the party”. The group, which has no seats in the lower house, is known for its anti-EU and nationalist policies. On Monday, a close associate of the ex-president, Ladislav Jakl, denied that Mr. Klaus was planning a political comeback.
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