News Friday, NOVEMBER 13th, 1998

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These are the top Czech news stories this hour. Now the news, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-ELECTIONS

People in the Czech Republic go to the polls today to elect one third of the Senate and their new municipal representatives.

The polls open at 2 p.m. today and close at noon on Saturday. The Czech election system is rather complicated in that it combines both proportional and majority voting elements.

The senatorial election proceed in two rounds. The second round is scheduled for next weekend. Final results will be available late on Sunday or early on Monday.

CZECH-US-HAVEL

President Vaclav Havel has spoken of the importance of radio broadcasting from the Czech Republic to countries with authoritarian regimes such as Iran and Iraq.

Havel said in a meeting with U.S. Democratic senators Byron Dorgan and Thomas Daschli on Thursday that the American-funded Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts to both nations on shortwave from Czech territory, played a significant role in reforming Communist Czechoslovakia along democratic lines.

Iran has protested against the broadcasts, has recalled its ambassador for consultations, and threatened to impose economic sanctions on the Czech Republic.

CZECH-IRAQ-DIPLOMATS

The Czech Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Czech diplomatic staff in Iraq would not be evacuated for the time being.

Spokesman Ales Pospisil said the Czech Republic acted in concert with European Union states which, except for Britain and Germany, are also keeping their diplomatic missions in Baghdad open.

But he said the Czech authorities were closely monitoring the situation and the Czech embassy had been put on high security alert.

CZECH-FARMERS-PIGS-PROTEST

Farmers protesting against the import of subsidised pork were about to herd scores of pigs today on the busy Prague-Brno highway.

Farmers' leaders say that unless there is a change of import policy on the governmental side they are going to paralyse all traffic in Prague next week.

CZECH-US-CHILDREN

Police in Brno said on Thursday that American employees of the correctional institution Morava Academy have subjected their charges -- scores of hard-to-discipline American youths and children of several other nationalities -- to rough handling and deprived them of food and freedom of movement.

The police have been investigating the case of the Morava Academy near Brno for a number of days now. Several arrests have been made.

CZECH-TELECOM-SACKING

Czech Transport and Communications Minister Antonin Peltram says he plans to fire SPT Telecom's chief Svatoslav Novak. Ministry sources said on Thursday this could happen at Telecom's annual meeting. The sources cited security reasons but did not elaborate.

SPT Telecom has long been enthralled in a dispute with Internet users who are opposed to the planned price rises and threaten to boycott Telecom services in a nationwide protest next Wednesday.

CZECH-CHURCHES-GOVERNMENT

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the Czech Roman Catholic Primate, said on Thursday that direct talks between the church and the government were impossible because of the state's unpreparedness for serious dialogue.

Cardinal Vlk said the Catholics would not send their representatives to talks with the Social Democrat cabinet, which he said had lost credibility.

Premier Milos Zeman has indicated he will seek an apology from the Cardinal.

CZECH-GERMAN-GAS

Three German gas companies have signed a contract with the Czech firm Transgas on natural gas deliveries during this winter.

Our correspondent says the contract provides for the delivery of up to three million cubic metres of gas a day.

CZECH-INVESTIGATOR-DRUNK

A senior Czech official is facing accusations of causing a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol.

The Ministry of the Interior said on Thursday that Marian Gula, head of the Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of Communism, was in the accident which occurred late on Wednesday at a road junction in southeast Prague.

Nobody was injured in the accident, the police said.

And one quick economic news -- The Czech National Bank has lowered its bi-weekly repo rate by one percentage point, from 12.5 to 11.5. The move comes into effect on Friday.

CZECH-WEATHER

Now the weather.

We expect a cool and wet weekend with nighttime lows around zero Celsius and daytime maxima from three to seven degrees.

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