News Friday, AUGUST 04th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Kazi Stastna and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First, the headlines:

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

31 Senators support complaint opposing new electoral law

A total of 31 senators have thus far supported a complaint lodged by the Christian Democratic Party with the Constitutional Court, opposing aspects of the recently passed electoral law. The controversial law, which aims to strengthen the position of larger parties, was pushed through Parliament in June by the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats despite a presidential veto. The senators, which aside from Christian Democrats include members from the Freedom Union, the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Communist Party as well as one Social Democratic senator and two independents, oppose changes in the number of voting districts, the minimum number of votes coalitions need to enter Parliament and party financing. This will be the second complaint filed with the Constitutional Court against the law, the first having been lodged by President Havel shortly after it was passed.

Senators to wind-up debate on controversial new law on Czech National Bank

Senators are expected to complete their debate on a controversial amendment to the law on the Czech National Bank. The Senate is expected to return the law to the Lower Chamber with changes to aspects of the amendment that it sees as threatening the bank's independence. These include government interference in the appointment of the bank's board, its budget, inflation targets, currency rates and monetary policy. The new law has been criticised by the European Commission and the European Central Bank as well as the Czech National Bank itself.

European Court for Human Rights in Europe hears suit on Jewish cemetery

The Committee for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe has filed a suit with the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg over the remains of a Jewish burial site in Prague. The medieval grave site, which was closed in 1478, was discovered in the centre of Prague earlier this year when the Ceska pojistovna insurance company began building its new headquarters on the land. After talks with the government, the area was declared a memorial site, and Ceska pojistovna, which owns the land, agreed to preserve the remains in concrete and build under them. However, the Committee, which claims the site is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, considers this a desecration of the former grave site and has called for a halting of construction and an immediate reburial of the remains.

Quarantine measures at Cerveny Ujezd refugee camp relaxed

Quarantine measures at the Cerveny Ujezd refugee camp in north Bohemia have been relaxed. Twenty of the more than 400 refugees at the camp, where 17 cases of Hepatitis have been discovered since mid-July, have been allowed to leave the premises. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was called in to examine the camp after unrest broke out earlier in the week when 48 refugees, who were attempting to leave the camp, detained several employees. A total of 83 refugees have fled the camp since the quarantine was enforced, 50 of whom are still missing.

Defence and Interior ministers agree to beef up security at IMF meeting

The Minister of Defence, Vladimir Vetchy, and the Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, have signed an agreement on freeing up 1,600 professional soldiers to help provide security at the meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Prague. 200 of the soldiers will aid police officers in Prague during the anti-globalisation protests that are expected to surround the meeting, while the remaining soldiers will replace police officers around the country who will be used as reinforcements in the capital. The Interior Ministry has estimated that 50,000 demonstrators could show up at the fall meeting, but some activists have described this estimate as exaggerated.

Dissident and human rights activist Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek commemorated

The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, will lead a mass in Prague's St Vitus cathedral commemorating the eight anniversary of the death of his predecessor and renowned dissident Frantisek Tomasek. Known as an outspoken defender of human rights and religious freedom and an active opponent of the Communist regime, Cardinal Tomasek spent several years in prison and forced labour camps in the early 1950s. However, he continued his opposition activities well into the 1980s and served as the Archbishop of Prague from 1977 until his death at the age of 93 on August 4th 1992.

Victims of Communist persecution call for ban of KSCM

A group of organisations opposing Communism has submitted a proposal to President Vaclav Havel demanding that the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, or KSCM, be dissolved. The group includes organisations representing former political prisoners, forced labourers and other victims of political and religious persecution under the Communist regime. In their letter to the President, the signatories claim that the current party carries the name Communist and is hence a direct successor of the pre-1989 Communist party of Czechoslovakia, an organisation that is now illegal under Czech law. The opponents also warn of the possible victory of KSCM representatives in the upcoming regional elections.

Police crimes up by almost 50 per cent

The Inspectorate of the Interior Ministry has announced that the number of investigated crimes committed by police has risen by 48 per cent since last year. The most common criminal offence was abuse of public office, followed by the production and possession of illegal substances and insurance fraud. 285 crimes committed by some 180 officers were investigated in the first half of this year.


And finally a quick look at the weather. Partly cloudy skies are expected on the weekend, with scattered showers or storms in some regions. Day temperatures will reach highs of 24 degrees Celsius, dropping to lows of 11 degrees in the evening.