News Friday, JUNE 05th, 1998

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Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 5.6.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman you are tuned to Radio Prague, first let's a take a look at the main headlines of the Day:

Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full...

Election / Mudslinging

Czech voters facing a general election later this month, have been deluged with a campaign of mudslinging rather than an in-depth discussion of key issues.

In a highly polarised political environment, parties are seeking to gain support with slogans such as "It's normal not to lie" and "Keep your chin up".

Polls show that Czechs are indeed fed up with the situation and politicians. This has resulted from the personal invective and scandals which have dominated the political scene since the fall of Vaclav Klaus's government last year.

The main opposition social democrats enjoy a lead although polls are already indicating that the result is likely to be inconclusive and that forming the new government will be hard.

While Vaclav Klaus is leading what experts have called a "vigorous and active election campaign" Milos Zeman has been coming under fire from his own party. Stanislav Gross, Chairman of the opposition Social Democrats Deputies' Club, on Thursday defended the party's leader Milos Zeman against accusations of harming rather than helping the party.

Mr Gross said that Milos Zeman is capable of leading the party to victory in the forthcoming elections and said the opposition leader had worked very hard.

His words come after recent reports in the media, based on statements from members of the party, have suggested that Milos Zeman is hindering the progress of the Social Democrats.

Opinion polls also show that the party has fallen slightly behind in the popularity stakes. Gross said he was aware of this, adding that while he takes it seriously, everything can change on election day.

Havel / Tosovsky / Germany

Czech President Vaclav Havel on Thursday expressed his sadness over a high speed train crash in Germany, in which over 90 people were killed. He offered condolences on behalf of himself and the Czech people.

German officials said on Friday that the death toll in modern Germany's worst rail disaster had so far reached 95, two days after the country's fastest train derailed and slammed into a road bridge at 200 kilometres per hour.

In his telegram of condolences to his German counterpart Roman Herzog, Havel said he joined in mourning for the victims.

Czech Premier Josef Tosovsky also sent a telegram offering his sympathies to the families of all the victims.

Senators / Jerusalem

A delegation of Czech Senators visiting Israel, discussed the middle east peace process and mutual ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.

While President Ezer Weizman said the peace process could get back on course again by the end of June, Mr Netanyahu, avoided commenting on a possible date.

On the topic of Czech - Israeli ties, leader of the Czech Senate Petr Pithart commented that although Vaclav Klaus visited Israel in 1994 as Czech Premier, the visit has never been returned. Mr Netayahu promised to come to Prague for a visit which he said would promote business links between the two states.

Demonstrators / Released

Czech Police have released nine of the ten demonstrators being held in connection with the riots in Prague on the 16th May.

A lawyer for the demonstrators said on Thursday that charges have not been dropped against his clients, who stand accused of damaging public property, attacking public figures and disturbing the peace.

He says police investigators however, remain unable to prove that the nine who were released, broke shop windows or vandalised private property.

The demonstration last Month, which began as an ecological protest in the form of a street party, turned into a riot in central Prague, and saw the intervention of special police units.

Health warnings / Salmonella

There has been another outbreak of Salmonella in the Moravian region of Vsetinsko. Earlier in the week, 30 people were taken ill after eating food containing infected eggs in a company canteen.

This is the second outbreak in the region, last week, children in a local school also ate eggs which contained salmonella and had to be taken to hospital.

Hygienists say they are trying to determine where the eggs come from and there have been nationwide health warnings.

Weather

A ridge of low pressure moving towards the Czech Republic, means that although there will be a bright, sunny start to the day on Friday, skies will become cloudier towards the afternoon.

Temperatures will remain high at about 27 degrees celsius, with the possibility of showers or thunderstorms towards the evening.