Ceremonies took place throughout the Czech Republic on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. The invasion 37 years ago marked an end to the democratisation process that came to be known as the Prague Spring. Czech President Vaclav Klaus spent part of the day in Brno, where he spoke at the opening of an exhibition of historic photographs and documents from the period.
Meanwhile, the last communist president of Poland has apologised for the participation of Polish troops in the 1968 invasion and occupation of the former Czechoslovakia. Wojciech Jaruzelski's made his apology during an interview with the Czech service of the BBC.
Former president Vaclav Havel is the greatest euro-optimist on the Czech political scene today while his successor Vaclav Klaus is the most euro-sceptic; this according to a poll of public perceptions by the STEM agency. Asked to name a pro-European politician, aside from Havel, respondents named three high-profile Social Democrat party members: former prime minister Stanislav Gross, the current man in the job, Jiri Paroubek, and ex-premier Vladimir Spidla, now a European Commissioner. Apart from Klaus, the poll found that people consider Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek and Communist party head Miroslav Gerbenicek the most euro-sceptic Czech politicians.
Former prime minister Milos Zeman's daughter will enrol this September in the private high school of which president Vaclav Klaus' son is the director. Zeman lost to Klaus in the 2003 presidential elections. He said that his daughter Katerina picked the school herself and that, politics aside, he approved of her choice. The daily Pravo notes that besides Milos Zeman, several prominent Social Democrat party members send their children to private schools while pushing for increased spending on public education. They include Education Minister Petra Buzkova and former prime minister Stanislav Gross.
The Israeli vegetarian food producer Tivall has announced it will build a new factory in the Czech Republic, at a cost of 30 million dollars. Exports to Europe count for over half of the company's sales. It supplies major retailers like Tesco of the United Kingdom and Delhaize of Belgium, both of which operate in the Czech Republic. Currently, Tivall's production is handled entirely by a cooperative, or kibbutz, in Israel. The Czech factory will specialise in vegetarian hamburgers and other meatless patties.
The Czech athlete Richard Blatny has set a new world record in long-distance fresh water swimming. On Sunday morning, by his calculations, Blatny completed an 81.7 kilometre swim after spending 29 hours in the Vltava River. His previous best, a 54 kilometre swim, is entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mr Blatny, who is forty years old, is among the eleven Czechs to have swum the English Channel. He also holds the Czech record in the length of time spent in cold water. In January, he spent 57 minutes in the Vltava, when the water temperature was a brisk one-and-a-half degrees Celsius.
Liverpool striker Milan Baros, a Czech national, looks set to join Aston Villa. The English club have reportedly offered him 40,000 pounds a week to play for them. Baros, a top scorer for the Czech national team in the most recent European championships, has rejected offers from Lyon and CSKA Moscow, saying he wanted to remain in the Premiership. Liverpool rejected Aston Villa's 6 million pound bid for Baros. But Aston hope that a 1 million pound add-on --based on performance-- will swing the deal their way.
Occasional light rain remains is the forecast for the next couple of days, with daytime highs in the low to mid 20s.
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