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Czechs mark anniversary of foundation of Czechoslovakia

The Czech Republic commemorates the 96th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, a national holiday, on Tuesday. Several events are being held to mark the occasion, including a ceremony at the National Memorial at Prague’s Vítkov Hill, and the presentation of state honours by President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle. The expected recipients include Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved hundreds of Jewish children on the eve of WWII, and Catholic priest Josef Toufar who was tortured to death by Communist investigators in 1950.

President Zeman awards state decorations

President Miloš Zeman awarded Czech state decorations to 33 personalities on the occasion of Czechoslovakia Independence Day. The recipients include Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved Jewish children during the Holocaust, former UK leader Winston Churchill, the late Russian dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, five Czech soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and others. In his remarks, the president emphasised the role of the individual in crucial moments of history. Several Czech public figures did not attend the ceremony at Prague Castle in solidarity with two university rectors shunned by Mr Zeman over past disputes.

President Zeman returns from China on board of corporate jet

President Miloš Zeman has returned from his official visit to China on board of a corporate jet owned by the PPF group. A daughter company of the financial firm, Home Credit, is a major loans provider, and has operations in China and other countries in southeast Asia. A spokesman for the president said Mr Zeman opted for flying back on the jet to save time; the trip on the Czech Air Force aircraft that brought him to China would be two hours longer. Czech multibillionaire Petr Kellner, who controls the PPF group, also participated in Monday’s meeting between the Czech and Chinese presidents, a spokesman for the group said.

More than half of Czech industry “foreign-owned”

More than half of the Czech Republic’s industrial sector is controlled by foreign companies, according to the Czech Statistics Office. In 2012, the revenues of foreign-owned Czech-based industrial companies reached over three trillion crowns which represented nearly 59 percent of all industrial companies. Added value, created by these firms, reached 501 billion crowns, which was half of the total value. Most Czech-based industrial companies are controlled by owners from other EU countries, mainly Germany, followed by the US while Russian firms only own few industrial firms based in the Czech Republic.

Ministry earmarks 621 million for landmarks renovation

The Czech Ministry of Regional Development has earmarked 621 million crowns, or some 28.5 million US dollars, for the renovation of historical landmarks, buildings and other monuments, a spokeswoman for the ministry said. The objects to receive funding include Brno’s Špilberk castle, the Velehrad monastery, a burger’s house in Třeboň, and others. The funds, most of which proceed from the EU, will have to be allocated by the end of next year, the ministry said.

“Race the Tube” stunt repeated in Prague

Two Czechs have repeated the “Race the Tube” stunt, racing an underground train in Prague metro last week, the news website lidovky.cz reports. The two youths, who call themselves Blackrunners, placed a video on line showing them get off the train at the Hůrka metro station and getting on the same train at the next stop, covering the distance of 750 metres in two minutes and seven seconds. This was the second attempt inspired by the original stunt in London; another group tried to race the train in the same location two weeks ago but failed.