News Friday, OCTOBER 09th, 1998

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


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said on Thursday that the government will debate on Monday the deployment of a military hospital to Yugoslavia's troubled Kosovo Province if an international military action goes ahead.

But he told members of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee that NATO did not plan to ask non-member countries to take part in any possible air strikes.

Meanwhile, plans are being made for the evacuation of the families of Czech diplomats in Belgrade as new Yugoslavia faces the threat of international military action over the violence in Kosovo.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ales Pospisil says the dependents might leave Belgrade before the weekend.

Western embassies evacuated staff and their families from Yugoslavia and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic he has but a few days to withdraw his forces from Kosovo and avoid NATO air strikes.

The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army said on Thursday its guerilla forces would exercise self-restraint from today and during any NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.

But the Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman said the international strike against Yugoslavia was not likely this week.


The Prague-based U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has expressed surprise over the Czech government's decision on Wednesday that the station must move its planned Iraqi Service from a villa in a residential district in Western Prague.

RFE's Administrative Director Jan Oberman said on Thursday that he was bewildered by the government move but he declined any further comment.

Vice Premier Vladimir Spidla says a safer new location for the broadcasts has yet to be found.

RFE/RL is under obligation from Washington soon to start pro- democracy radio broadcasts to Iraq and Iran.


Unemployment figures in the Czech Republic reached an all-time high at the end of September when almost seven percent of people in productive age found themselves without work.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said on Thursday that the number of jobless people, registered by labour offices late last month, had been over 350,000 -- more than 20,000 more than in August and over 10,000 more than one year ago.

Minister Vladimir Spidla says that Czechs should brace themselves for an unemployment rate in the vicinity of nine percent.


Former Slovak President Michal Kovac says the opposition should have no problems forming the country's next government. He also said he was prepared to run again.

Kovac on Thursday met in Prague with Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Slovakia's general election two weeks ago was won by Premier Vladimir Meciar's ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia but a bloc of opposition parties won a clear majority in parliament. The opposition has ruled out the possibility of government-forming talks with Meciar.


Skoda Plzen's general director Lubomir Soudek is said to be considering to resign as the head of the giant engineering corporation, citing unacceptable media pressure on him, as Skoda shareholders prepare to hold an emergency general meeting.

Insider reports on Thursday indicated that Mr Soudek may be under investigation over using payments from Skoda's subsidiaries to finance services provided by his private firm, NERO.


A court in the South Bohemian town of Pisek passed jail sentences on Thursday to three skinheads convicted of causing the drowning death three five years ago of the Roma teenager Tibor Danihel.

The defendants were sent to jail for between eight and a half and seven years.

Tibor Danihel, who could not swim, was driven into a cold river in an incident in which a group of skinheads rounded up Romany youths on a river island not far from the centre of Pisek in September 1993.


The American trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis has praised Vaclav Havel for his affection for jazz and said Czechs must be proud of having such a wonderful president.

Mr Marsalis, who will appear in Prague on Friday with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, was hosted by President Clinton at a White House musical party in honour of the visiting Czech President at the White House a few weeks ago.


Tennis -- and Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna's chances of becoming world number one for the first time took a blow on Thursday when she retired in the second round of the Filderstadt Grand Prix with a back injury.

The world number three is still in contention, along with Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport, for the year-end top spot, but will have extra ground to make up after quitting two games into the final set against Serena Williams.


Finally, the weather:

Friday will be a generally cloudy day in the Czech Republic, with scattered showers, morning fogs and maximum daytime temperatures from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius.

An outlook for the weekend -- a cold front will advance into Central Europe, bringing along some rain , nighttime lows between six and ten degrees, and daytime highs from 11 to 15 Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.