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.
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.
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.
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'.
More than a third of Russians say the Soviet Union was correct to intervene
in Czechoslovakia in 1968 while almost half know nothing about the
invasion, according to new polling data obtained by the Guardian newspaper
before its release.
The polling data reflects the resurgence of “Brezhnev-era propaganda, stereotypes of the Soviet period,” said Lev Gudkov of the Levada Center, which will release the results later on Monday, the 50th anniversary of the crushing of the Prague Spring.
More than one in five Russians blame a “subversive action by Western countries” to split the communist bloc for a Czechoslovak programme of liberalisation that ended in a Soviet-led invasion of the communist country, the Guardian reports.
The National Museum has responded to criticism that a recent renovation of
the façade of its building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square has left bullets
holes dating back to the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia barely visible.
In a press release issued on Monday, the museum said restorers took great care to leave the distinctive traces of the nation’s history – including attempts by Soviet occupiers to literally whitewash them – in place for generations to come.
In refurbishing the façade, the contrast between the original stone parts and the embedded fillings of the bullet holes was partially lost but the colour differences were intentionally preserved, it said, describing in great detail the process and care given to preserving the history whilst protecting the façade.
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová (Social Democrats)
will propose a new mechanism for determining the minimum wage, setting it
at 50 per cent of the average salary in the country for the previous year.
As of this January, the minimum wage in the Czech Republic is 12,000 crowns (480 euros). Trade union representatives had been seeking an increase of 1,500 crowns, or 12 per cent.
The valorisation mechanism proposed by Minister Maláčová would require amending the Labour Code. According to the Czech news agency ČTK, trade unions would back the proposed change, which could come into effect in 2020.
Several dozen activists from the animal rights group Obraz packed
themselves into Prague trams on Monday wearing chicken masks and
distributing leaflets to raise awareness about what they see as inhumane
conditions for hens in poultry farms.
The activists were heading to the headquarters of COOP, which unlike major supermarket chains such as Lidl and Globus has not pledged to gradually phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens, according to Obraz.
Data from the Bohemian and Moravian Poultry Union shows more than 87 per cent of Czech eggs come from battery farms. Only 11 per cent of hens are kept in free-range farms and just about one per cent of the birds are bred in natural conditions.
Czech e-shops taking part in the Free Transport Days promotion starting on
Monday will not charge customers for the delivery of orders worth over 300
crowns. The promotional event ends on Wednesday at one minute before
Almost 1,000 online companies are taking part this year, according to its organiser, Heureka.cz. A similar promotion has been held in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, traditionally the busiest season for online retailers.
The average weight of a newborn baby in the Czech Republic has held steady
at around 3.3 kilograms over the past ten years, the Czech Statistical
Office (ČSÚ) said on Monday.
The proportion of multiple births has fallen in that period – from 2.1 per cent of live births in 2007 to 1.4 per cent last year – a change that could signal a drop in the use of fertility treatments, which increase the chances of having twins.
The majority of babies were from 49 to 51 centimetres long at birth and were born in the 39th or 40th week of pregnancy. Last year, 505 children were born in the Czech Republic who weighed less than one kilogram, up from 430 in 2007.