News Friday, SEPTEMBER 10th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.

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


Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has criticised a truckers' protest scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon. Truckers associated in the Cesmad Bohemia organisation plan to block all key roads in the country by moving slowly in columns during the late-afternoon rush hour, when many Czechs drive out of the cities to spend the weekend in their country residences.

The protest is mainly in support of a new legislative motion for lowering rates for the country's road tax.

Premier Zeman said it was inappropriate for the truckers to resort to pressure while negotiations about their demands are still underway. He said Cesmad would achieve nothing by its obstructions.


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan says he has ordered an analysis of what went wrong with his country's relief aid to the earthquake-stricken Turkey, and then will decide if heads will roll..

The State Security Council on Tuesday blamed the Czech aid, which was late in coming, on bureaucrats at the ministries of the interior, foreign affairs and defence, and ordered the respective ministers to discipline them for negligence.

Foreign Minister Kavan did not say on Thursday when the analysis would be complete.


Meanwhile, the capital city of Prague has decided to grant six million crowns' worth of emergency aid to Turkey and Greece. The city council voted unanimously that the money will be forwarded to the Czech Red Cross to buy medicines and other materiel.


Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus says he was puzzled by a journalist's offer to pay five million crowns to anyone who can help the country to get rid of this leader of the main-opposition Civic Democratic Party. Prague police have launched an investigation.

Josef Kudlacek, publisher of the advertising newspaper ANONCE, wrote on Tuesday there was only one thing standing in the Czech Republic's way to the civilised world -- Vaclav Klaus.

Kudlacek said in an interview to Radio Prague on Thursday that he meant his offer quite seriously. Klaus in return described Kudlacek as not a very normal man but said he did not take the threat light-heartedly.

Kudlacek, a long-time critic of Klaus, is vocally opposed to the non-aggression pact between the Civic Democrats and the ruling Social Democrats.


Namibian President Sam Nujoma has urged Czech companies to invest more in his country, which is rich in uranium, diamonds, gold, zinc and natural gas. Mr. Nujoma, who has been visiting Prague, also appealed to Czech investors to start a number of joint ventures with their Namibian partners.

Nujoma's Prague host, Czech President Vaclav Havel, said on Thursday both countries liberated themselves from foreign domination at approximately the same time, 10 years ago. He said today's Czech Republic maintained continuity with the former Czechoslovakia's support for Namibia's struggle for independence in the 1970s and 80s.

But our correspondent says that during his visit to Fidel Castro's Cuba way that back in 1991, Mr. Nujoma, who visited Communist Czechoslovakia several times while still a freedom activist, described the new Czechoslovakia as an imperialist power and an instrument of aggression against the Third World. He was speaking shortly after the end of the Gulf War.


The main-opposition Civic Democrats on Thursday criticised President Vaclav Havel for granting clemency to a Kosovo refugee accused of plotting to cause grievous bodily harm, hooliganism and damaging property.

The Kosovar, Agon Duraku, was involved in a pub brawl in a village near Olomouc a few weeks ago and was taken into police custody. President Havel pardoned him earlier this week, citing the man's psychiatric problems. The president acted on the recommendation of Justice Minister Otakar Motejl.

But the Civic Democrats' Vice Chairman Ivan Langer has said he considers Havel's move scandalous and pre-emptive of a decision by the court.


A leading official of the largely unreformed Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia has admitted that the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia indulged in terrorist practices.

The party's deputy chairman Vaclav Exner said on Thursday that terrorism and suppression has nothing to do with the ideas of socialism.

Exner told a press conference in Prague that a dispute was underway in his party whether communism in post-war Czechoslovakia had anything to do with socialism. He said some party insiders believe it was but a mockery of socialism.

Our correspondent says that the party -- a direct follow-up on the -- once-ruling Communist structures has yet to apologise for the atrocities -- it committed during 40 years of its iron-fist rule in Czechoslovakia.


The Czech sports promoter Teleaxis Group has cancelled two professional tennis tour events scheduled for October.

The decision affects the Czech Indoor men's tournament which was scheduled to start on October 18, and the WTA Open in Brno, which was due to start a week later.

Teleaxis said that early walkovers of top players in past events and domestic players failing to win have led to increasingly poor attendance in recent years. Last year's one-million-dollar ATP Czech Indoor in Ostrava was won by Andre Agassi, putting him back into the top five in the world rankings.


And finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic.

On Friday, we expect early morning fogs and temperatures between nine and 13 degrees Celsius. The day itself will be very warm, with afternoon highs between 24 and 27 degrees.

The weekend will be very dry and also very hot, with night-time lows between nine and 13 Celsius, morning mists and daytime highs between 22 and 26 degrees on both days.

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