News Friday, JUNE 18th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Another Air accident

Two MiG-21 aircraft crashed late on Thursday near Havlickuv Brod, Eastern Bohemia during a training flight. Two pilots died, one escaped unhurt. The two aircraft collided and exploded into a ball of flame. The accident is being investigated by a special military commission. The army command has banned all military flights until the end of the investigation.

Another Global Street Party

Another Global Street Party is to take place in Prague this afternoon. The organizers - the radical environmental movement Rainbow Keepers - are planning a march through the city centre in protest against globalisation. Similar events are to take place in many towns and cities across Europe. Czech police said it has prepared a force of about 1000 men to prevent rioting. An event with the same name took place two weeks ago. The demonstrators attacked the US embassy in Prague and the event ended in clashes with police.

Czech police criticised for beating demonstrators

The human rights group Amnesty International has asked Czech Justice Minister Otakar Motejl to investigate cases of ill- treatment of demonstrators detained by police last year. The organisation also asked Motejl to investigate similar cases in 1996 and 1997. In its annual report, Amnesty International says that the Czech police beat dozens of participants of the Global Street Party organised by radical environmentalists and left-wing groups in the centre of Prague. According to Amnesty International, the police reacted to rioting but only after it was actually over and the demonstrators had dispersed.

SPT Telecom holds AGM today

Telecommunication monopoly SPT Telecom is holding its annual general meeting today. It is to discuss changes in the articles of incorporation and to elect new board members. The strategic partner of SPT Telecom, TelSource, has warned that it might pull its managers out of Telecom should it lose control of the company amid the government's effort to gain a greater influence over the company.

Senate approves sending troops to Kosovo

The upper house of Czech parliament, the Senate, has approved sending up to 800 Czech troops to Kosovo within the KFOR mission. The government originally proposed that the Czech Republic sends only 150 soldiers to Kosovo, but the lower house earlier this week increased the number of troops to 800.

Senate passes tax law amendments

The Senate has approved amendments to tax laws proposed by the cabinet. The excise tax on petrol and tobacco will rise as of July 1, and the income, corporate and capital gains taxes will go down from January next year. The changes were approved by the lower house at the end of May.

Party popularity - poll

According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency, the opposition Civic Democrats of Vaclav Klaus are still the most popular political party. Its support has reached almost 24 percent. On the other hand, the popularity of the ruling Social Democratic Party continued to decline in May, dropping to only 18 percent. The Communist party are third, with just under 16 percent. The other two smaller opposition parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, both enjoy 11.5 percent support from Czech population.

Farmers to stop supplying Czech market

Czech farmers have warned that they will stop supplying the Czech market if the state does not accept their proposal to introduce minimum commodity prices. The head of the distribution company Agropork, which controls 30 percent of the Czech pork market, said they were ready to stop the supplies as soon as Monday if they are not paid at least 30 crown per kilogram. Currently, they receive 26 crowns. Milk producers have decided to wait until July. Agriculture minister Jan Fencl said he would not do anything to prevent these protest actions.

Annan to discuss U.N. reform in Prague

The U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is to visit the Czech Republic in July. He is expected to discuss reform of the U.N. Security Council and U.N.'s future. Czech cabinet spokesman Libor Roucek said that Annan would sign an agreement with Czech officials on a U.N. information centre to be established in the Czech Republic. Annan is to hold talks in Prague with President Vaclav Havel, Premier Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. Roucek said that the agenda was expected to include the Security Council's activities and reform to make its work more effective, the impact of the Kosovo crisis on the U.N.'s future, as well as disarmament and nuclear non- proliferation issues. Annan, who was elected Secretary General in 1997, will visit the Czech Republic for the first time. His predecessor Javier Perez de Cuellar visited the then Czechoslovakia in 1990.

Alleged murderer of former Bulgarian premier detained

Czech police have arrested a man who was allegedly involved in the assassination of former Bulgarian premier Andrei Lukanov. Police spokeswoman Ivana Moosova told CTK that the 54-year-old man and his two accomplices were arrested upon a request from the Bulgarian authorities. They were taken into custody and extradition procedure is now underway. Lukanov was shot dead in October 1996. He was the Bulgarian premier in 1990. Then he was a businessman and an MP for the Bulgarian Socialist Party. In July 1992, Lukanov was arrested and investigated for alleged support to terrorism under the communist regime.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a cloudy day with scattered showers, especially in the eastern parts of the country. Afternoon highs should range from 19 to 23 degrees Celsius. The weekend should also be mostly cloudy, with highest daytime temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.