Daily news summary News

21-08-2004

Ceremony at Czech Radio for victims of Soviet-led invasion of 1968

A remembrance ceremony has been held in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague's Vinohradska St, the site of the bloodiest fighting on August 21, 1968, when Soviet-led troops invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the reform movement known as the Prague Spring. More than 90 people were killed and several hundred wounded in the first weeks of the invasion.

Speaking at Saturday's ceremony - which was attended by around 100, mostly elderly people - the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Lubomir Zaoralek said efforts to create a more free life in Czechoslovakia did not die under the invading armies' tanks, but a year later in August 1969, when Czechoslovak security forces suppressed protest demonstrations.

The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, warned of the dangers of forgetting the past, pointing out that one in five Czechs now vote for the Communist Party. He thanked those who had shown opposition to the occupying troops in 1968, and those who survived the following two decades unbowed.

Prime Minister Gross accepts Pribyl's resignation as head of Office of Government

The prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has accepted the resignation of Pavel Pribyl, the man he recently chose to head the Office of the Government. Mr Pribyl stepped down on Friday after evidence emerged that members of a riot-police unit under his command attacked anti-Communist demonstrators in 1989.

Opposition to Mr Pribyl's appointment had been mounting; hundreds of people gathered outside the Office of the Government on Tuesday to call for his sacking, and another demonstration had been planned for next week.

Confidence vote to go ahead despite attempted bribery claim

Tuesday's vote of confidence in the new government will go ahead as planned; Lower House chairman Lubomir Zaoralek had suggested on Friday the vote be suspended, after allegations the opposition Civic Democrats tried to bribe Freedom Union MP Zdenek Koristka not to support the government in the vote. The Civic Democrats strongly deny the claim, which is being investigated by the police. The coalition has a majority of just one.

German man offers reward for information about mass graves

German citizen Josef Hasenoehrl is offering a cash reward of 1,000 euros for information regarding the whereabouts of two mass graves of Germans, believed to be located between the west Bohemian towns of Ochiov and Podborany, where the man was born, the newspaper Deniky Bohemia reported on Saturday.

Historical sources suggest around 70 Germans were executed by Czechs in the area on June 8, 1945. The Roman Catholic church in Podborany has refused requests from the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft to erect a plaque there to the victims of the massacre. An estimated 2.5 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.

Czech rowers fail to reach the podium in Athens

The Czech Republic's rowers failed to reach the podium during Saturday's finals at the Olympic Games in Athens. Vaclav Chalupa, who took silver at the 1992 Games, came fifth, as did Ondrej Synek and Milan Dolecek in the two-man event. Miroslava Kapkova came fourth in the women's race.

So far the Czech Republic has taken three medals in Athens: a silver and a bronze in women's shooting, and a bronze in the men's two-man kayak slalom.

Weather

Sunday is expected to be cloudy with rain in places. The maximum temperature should be 21 degrees Celsius.

21-08-2004