Czechs marked the 44th anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. A number of high-ranking politicians attended a remembrance ceremony on Tuesday at the main Czech Radio building in Prague, including speakers of both the upper and lower house and Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda. At least 15 people perished in front of the building as they tried to prevent Soviet troops from entering after the invasion on August 21, 1968. More than 100 people were killed across the country during the tragic days that followed the invasion.
The Czech police have charged Ronald Adams, the CEO of the Czech automobile company Tatra, with corruption. The 62-year-old US citizen allegedly offered a bribe in 2009 to then defense minister Martin Barták to secure a 2.7 billion crown deal from the Czech military. The case against Mr Adams is based on testimonies by Martin Barták and arms dealer Michal Smrž who themselves face corruption and bribery charges in the same case. A court in Brno is set to rule on Tuesday whether Mr. Adams will be taken into custody.
The European Commission sent 9.3 billion crowns worth of subsidies to the Czech Republic in August. These are the first funds the commission disbursed to the Czech Republic after it suspended cash flow in March. The suspension of subsidies to Czech ministries came as a result of the European Commission’s concerns over lack of controls and problematic auditing. The funding had been partially renewed in July, after Czechs fulfilled all of the commission’s requirements and improved the auditing system, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Monday. The ministry expects that the European Commission will pay out a total of 29 billion crowns in subsidies for the whole of 2012. So far, the Czech Republic has received 13.6 billon.
Three members of the supervisory board of Prague’s Public Transport Company have resigned following a week of controversy. Deputy Mayor of Prague 9 Tomáš Portlík confirmed this on the news site iDnes on Tuesday. All three men are members of the Civic Democratic party. It is rumored that some of the board members changed their minds about voting for the dismissal of the Transport Company’s director general Vladimír Lich last week. Civic Democrat David Vodrážka who pushed for Lich’s dismissal remains on the company’s supervisory board.
Agriculture ministry has come up with a number of measures to help farmers whose harvest was reduced this year by lack of rain and excessive heat. Agriculture minister Petr Bendl said on Tuesday that the ministry will give affected farmers an advance on direct EU subsidies, that they would normally get a few months later. Farmers will receive a total of 9.4 billion crowns by October 16th, approximately half of the total amount for the year. This year’s agricultural yield is on average lower by one-fifth than last year’s and in some regions like South Moravia or Olomouc it is even less.
Romani residents of the northern Bohemian town of Krupka have come to an agreement with the city council over the recent city ordinance and announced they will cancel the protest planned for 5 September. The ordinance that came into effect on 10 July, prohibits sitting atop of walls, and using chairs, grills and cookers on public property in some parts of the city – specifically in the Horní Maršov neighborhood that is inhabited by mostly socially excluded residents. The city council promised to place benches in the neighborhood, while residents agreed to respect the ordinance, town hall spokesman said on Tuesday.
A cloud of nitrogen gas escaped from the Synthesia chemical plant in the eastern Bohemian city of Pardubice on Tuesday. The leak resulted from an explosion of a nitrogen fuel tank that took place at night. Firefighters were at the scene immediately and are advising local residents to close their windows.
Over the last several days, unknown perpetrators in Karlovy Vary vandalised several signs at the town’s Russian Orthodox Church of Peter and Paul, expressing support for imprisoned members of the female group Pussy Riot. The story was reported on Tuesday by Czech news site idnes. At least one slogan scribbled on the signs called for the group to be freed. The group – which has gotten public support from international pop stars like Madonna and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – was sentenced in Russia last week to two years in prison for an anti-Putin protest staged in March in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Aside from a number of signs at the Karlovy Vary church being vandalised, the church’s Father Nikolaj received a threatening text message, idnes said. The police were contacted over the incident.
A roughly two-week-old newborn was left in a babybox in Plzeň on Tuesday morning, the first child left at the Plzeň facility. The babybox system founder Ludvík Hess revealed the child was in good health and had been given the name Norbert by staff. Babyboxes were conceived as a safe any anonymous way for a parent to hand over a child they are unwilling or unable to care for; the system, launched in 2005, has since saved 76 infants. The Plzeň babybox was only installed in March of last year, after several years of negotiations. Some paediatricians as well as the former regional governor, Milada Emmerová, had opposed the idea.
Activists from the Occupy Czech movement threw paper airplanes into the gardens behind Straková academy, the seat of the Czech government, on Tuesday. The airplanes were made from anti-government leaflets and contained messages to the members of the cabinet calling for some or all of them to resign.
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