News Friday, APRIL 21st, 2000

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Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I’m Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Miners refuse to resurface until demands met in full

Miners who have occupied a shaft at the Kohinoor coal mine in northern Bohemia say they will refuse to end their three-week-old protest until their demands have been met in full. Their demands include selling the mine to a private owner and the sacking of the entire management. However, negotiations between the MUS mining company which owns the shaft and a private contender have collapsed. MUS now says it will not sell and has ordered the miners to vacate the mine by Friday afternoon or face immediate dismissal.

Klaus expresses shock at Meciar arrest

The leader of the centre-right Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, has expressed his shock at the method in which the former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar was arrested on Thursday. The former Czech Prime Minister said the arrest, carried out by a masked police commando unit, was unheard of in Central Europe. According to some reports police blasted down the door of Mr Meciar’s guarded home with sticks of dynamite before storming the building. Mr Meciar was charged with abuse of power and fraud, and could face up to ten years in prison. He was released from custody and fined .

Far-right party to appeal registration refusal

Members of the outlawed National Social Alliance, a far-right party with a strong skinhead following, have said they will appeal against the Interior Ministry’s refusal to register them. Members of the far-right party said they would appeal to the Constitutional Court to have the decision overruled. The newly-appointed Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said on Tuesday that the party was clearly undemocratic. His predecessor, Vaclav Grulich, had outlawed the National Alliance civic association, whose members went on to form the National Social Alliance as a political party.

Two killed, one injured in cosmetics factory blast

Two people were killed and a third seriously injured on Thursday in an explosion at a cosmetics factory in the northern city of Teplice. A police spokesman said experts were now trying to establish what caused the blast, which occurred at Teplice’s Lybar Velvety factory.

Dientsbier: No ethnic cleansing before NATO bombing

The United Nations’ special envoy for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, Jiri Dienstbier, has repeated his claim that ethnic cleansing by Serb forces in Kosovo began only after the launch of NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Mr Dienstbier, former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister, said during a discussion on the Czech News Agency’s Internet site that the mass expulsion of Albanians by Serb forces began after, not before, the launch of Operation Allied Force. Mr Dienstbier is known for his controversial views on Kosovo, which have been dismissed as groundless by NATO.

Cuba hits back at Czech-sponsored human rights censure

Cuba has lambasted the Czech Republic for its sponsorship of a United Nations censure over human rights. The Cuban authorities criticised the Czech President Vaclav Havel, describing him as a mediocre counter-revolutionary. In a five-hour round-table discussion shown live on state television, officials and journalists accused Czech diplomats of supporting American efforts to destabilise President Fidel Castro's government. They said Czech diplomats in Havana were lackeys and agents of the United States.

Weather

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather. The Czech Republic may look forward to a sunny and warm Easter holiday with daytime temperatures reaching a maximum of 26 degrees Celsius, falling to a low of seven degrees at night. But there might be wet spells during the weekend and, yes, even the occasional thunderstorm.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.