The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday overturned a proposal for victims of the 1968 Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia to receive financial compensation. Deputies of the Social Democrat and Communist parties joined forces to reject a bill drafted by the Civic Democrats according to which the families of people who were murdered as well as those who were injured or raped by the occupying forces between 1968 and 1991, when the last Soviet troops left the country, would be eligible for compensation. The families of those killed would get a million crowns, people who had been injured or raped half a million. The Civic Democratic Party has said it is outraged by the result of the vote.
The Lower House likewise rejected an amendment to the law according to which TV and radio announcers would have to speak grammatically correct Czech. The bill's advocates, predominantly members of the Communist party, argued that the purity of the Czech language was under threat and the Czech Republic should follow the example of France in passing legislation which would help to preserve it. 127 out of 176 mps present voted against the proposal. Deputies for the Christian Democratic Party argued that nurturing and preserving the Czech language was not a matter for law-makers but for schools and parents who have the most influence on how the future generation of Czechs will speak their mother tongue.
Sulphur oxides leaked from the Spolchemie chemical plant in the north Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem alarming local residents, who took shelter in shops and held handkerchiefs to their mouths as they went about their business. Over four and a half thousand residents received SMS messages from the town hall authorities informing them that the gas leak was not hazardous to health, merely an irritation. The gas reportedly leaked during manipulation with a sulphur tank. Despite the assurances, local residents were clearly angered by the incident and many have demanded that the chemical plant be removed from the town. This is the second leak from the plant in the space of a month.
The Czech power utility CEZ has offered towns and villages in the vicinity of the Temelin nuclear power plant 50 million crowns in connection with a planned construction of a storage site for nuclear fuel. A CEZ spokesman said the money would in no way commit the locals, they could still voice their reservations to the project. Municipalities may voice their reservations during the process of granting a construction permit which might complicate the power utility's plans. In the mid 1990s CEZ distributed a similar sum among villages in the vicinity of the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The towns around Temelin are hesitant about taking the offered sum, many of the locals and environmental groups are strongly against accepting the money.
On an official visit to Lebanon, President Vaclav Klaus discussed bilateral relations and regional policy in the Middle East with the Lebanese President Emile Lahud. After the meeting the two heads of state planted a cedar tree of friendship in the gardens of the presidential palace. The Czech president, who arrived in Lebanon on Monday, also witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements on closer cooperation in the fields of culture and science as well as between the two countries' chambers of commerce.
Wednesday is expected to be overcast and rainy with day temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius.