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Czechs mark 50th anniversary of Soviet-led invasion

The Czech Republic is marking the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. A traditional commemorative ceremony took place on Tuesday morning at the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská Street, which witnessed some of the bloodiest clashes between civilian protesters and the occupying forces.

The ceremony was disrupted by hundreds of people who gathered outside the building to protest against the presence of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, whose speech was drowned out by chanting, whistling and jeers, most focused on him allegedly having been an agent of the Communist-era secret police.

Other participants included the speaker of the Czech Senate, Milan Štěch, chairman of the lower house, Radek Vondráček, and numerous witnesses of the 1968 events. Over 100 people were killed in the first week of the invasion. An estimated 500,000 soldiers invaded Czechoslovakia in the early hours of August 21, 1968 to quell the Prague Spring reform movement.

Numerous events to mark 1968 invasion

Scores of events are taking place around the Czech Republic on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. Among the largest is a concert scheduled to take place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square in the evening. Performers will include Marta Kubišová, whose song A Prayer for Marta has become a symbol of resistance to the 1968 invasion.

Commemorations are also taking place in other towns and cities around the country, including Brno, Pilsen and Liberec.

Czech filmmakers launch chain hunger strike in solidarity with Oleg Sentsov

In support of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, imprisoned for alleged terrorism in Russian-annexed Crimea, Czech filmmakers launched a chain hunger strike on Tuesday, the 100th day of Sentsov’s own such protest.

A vocal opponent of Russia's 2014 takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, Sentsov in May began serving a 20-year sentence handed down by Russia for conspiring to commit terrorist acts. Sentsov says the evidence against him was fabricated and is demanding that another 64 fellow Ukrainians who he considers political prisoners be released.

The Czech filmmakers will take turns fasting in a show of solidarity over the next five days. Among them are Václav Kadrnka, Zuzana Kříhová, Eva Papoušková, Radim Špaček and Roman Vávra.

Earlier in August, the Czech NGO People in Need launched a campaign calling for Sentsov's release, which included raising awareness of his cause by asking people to take a picture of themselves and add the hashtag 'Oleg in Need'.

Prague to cut public transport fare for students, seniors by half

Prague City Hall has approved reduced public transport fares for students and seniors as of 1 September. Annual passes for those groups will be cut to 1,280 crowns a year if paid in a lump sum, about half the current amount. Alternatively, they can buy quarterly passes for 360 crowns or monthly ones for 130 crowns.

The move follows on the government’s aim to reduce the cost of travel on trams, buses and the metro for students under the age of 26 and residents over the age of 65 by 75 per cent.

In June, the Prague Municipal Council rejected a proposed discount on public transport for students aged 15-26 that would have allowed lowered the cost of annual passes to 365 crowns, roughly equivalent to 1.2 euros a month.

Report: over 90 percent of Czech Republic affected by drought

More than 90 percent of the area of the Czech Republic has been affected by drought, according to a report carried out by a scientific team within a project called InterSucho.

Over 72,000 square kilometres are currently affected by the drown-out period of dry weather and lack of rainfall.

According to climatologist Miroslav Trnka, a co-author of the study, there are between 40 and 80 millimetres of water lacking in the soil. The situation could only improve by a long-term, moderate rain.

Tennis: Kvitová advances to second round in New Haven

In tennis, Petra Kvitová has advanced to the second round of the WTA tournament in New Haven after defeating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6:1, 7:6. She is set to face Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the next match.

Another Czech, Karolína Plíšková, was knocked out from the first round, losing to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 1:6, 3:6 in less than an hour.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be mostly sunny, with scattered showers and storms. Daytime highs are expected to range between 29 and 33 degrees Celsius.