News Friday, APRIL 16th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has been visiting Moscow on what he says is primarily an economic mission. Russia's outstanding debt to the Czech Republic is being discussed together with some aspects of the current international situation.

Zeman's scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Primakov went ahead as planned on Thursday, and both officials said relations between their countries should be intensified.

This in spite of the reports that the 69-year-old Russian premier took three days off last week and postponed a trip to Ukraine due to a sudden outset of back pain. Premier Zeman said Mr Primakov had problems moving from one room to another without assistance.

The two officials only lightly touched on the Kosovo crisis, which they described as a human catastrophe.

Russia has been critical of NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia from the outset. The Czech Republic, which together with Hungary and Poland joined NATO last month, officially supports the action but public opinion as well as the political scene have been divided on this issue.

On Friday, Mr Zeman is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Chairman of the upper house of parliament Yegor Stroyev. He should be also received by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has welcomed Germany's new initiative to solve the crisis in Kosovo as a contribution to the effort to arrange peace in the Balkans.

But Kavan said on Thursday that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must not be allowed to freeze the results of his policy of ethnic cleansing, and that Russia should be allowed to play a part in the peace efforts.

The German plan, tabled by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, would commit NATO to halt its air strikes against Yugoslavia for a period of 24 hours once Belgrade begins to pull out its troops from Kosovo.

Kavan said his diplomats are actively seeking solutions to the conflict in the Balkans under guidelines set by the North Atlantic Alliance.

Speaking on Czech Public Radio, Minister Kavan said this activity was part and parcel of the Czech foreign policy strategy, which was discussed earlier in the day in the foreign relations committee of the lower house of the parliament.


Christian Democrat members of parliament said on Thursday they were not going to endorse a government-proposed amendment to the law concerning the state budget, which would allow its deficit to increase by another almost 800 million crowns needed to grant humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees.

They said that instead, the Social Democrat government should uncover and tap internal resources. They said that by using hidden budgetary reserves the government could save almost one billion crowns to allocate to humanitarian purposes in Kosovo.


The unreformed Czech Communist Party said on Thursday it was going to sue U.S. President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana over the war crimes they have allegedly committed in Yugoslavia.

The party said it would sue also Czech President Vaclav Havel and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan.

Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek said the suit would be filed to a U.N. international tribunal for the prosecution of crimes against Yugoslavia, which he said could be established on Prague's initiative.


The Council of Europe's Committee on the Prevention of Torture has criticised conditions in Czech detention centres holding foreigners awaiting expulsion from the country.

In a report released in Strasbourg on Thursday, the council criticised cases in which detainees were held for up to 30 days in cells without adequate lighting and were denied active programmes and exercise.

The Prague police director has reacted by saying improvement was on its way.


Away from politics now the Prague Municipal Museum has opened an exhibit showing a replica of the sepulchre of an ancient Peruvian ruler from the period ending around they year 800 A.D.

The travelling exhibition, entitled The Lord of Sipan, features replicas of the objects discovered by Portuguese archaeologists in 1987 and dating from the third century of our era.


Eros '99 is the title of an exhibition which opens late this month in the North Bohemian town of Liberec.

The last weekend in April, Liberec will be the place to go if you crave for erotic videos, luxury lingerie, and related films, magazines and aids.

The organisers hope to attract mainly visitors from the neighbouring German province of Saxony... enough said.


And finally, a quick look at the weekend's weather. A low pressure area will advance across central Europe and eastward. The skies will be mostly cloudy and we expect frequent showers, even some snowfall in the mountains.

Night-time lows between freezing point and four Celsius above, daytime highs an unseasonable nine to 13 Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.