News Monday, AUGUST 28th, 2000

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Hello and a warm welcome to the programme. I'm David Vaughan. First a bulletin of news from the Czech Republic.

Government suspects journalists in smear case

The Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes has strongly denied suggestions made by Prime Minister Milos Zeman, that two journalists from the paper could be behind material aimed to discredit one of the most popular figures in the ruling Social Democrats, Petra Buzkova. The material allegedly came from the office of one of the government's own advisors, but on Saturday the Prime Minister said it was possible that the journalists themselves had smuggled the document onto one of the government's computers, with the aim of giving the impression that there were rifts within the ruling party. The editor-in-chief of Mlada fronta Dnes, Petr Sabata, expressed shock at the claims, and said that the paper would defend itself against such potentially damaging allegations. The Prime Minister himself has said it is too soon to say how likely the theory is to be true.

Coach crash

Several people are still in hospital after a crash on Friday night involving a coach from Poland and a lorry on the motorway between Prague and Plzen. Eleven people were injured in the collision, six of them seriously, and rescue services used helicopters to transfer some of the injured to hospital. The coach was carrying Polish students who were travelling home after spending the summer working in Germany.

Anarchists end hunger strike

A group of ten anarchists ended a two-day hunger-strike on Sunday, by handing out food to the poor on Prague's Wenceslas Square. They said that the aim of the protest was to draw attention to plight of people around the world who do not have enough to eat. The organizers said that part of the blame for poverty lay with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and they said that the hunger-strike was one of a number of activities planned in protest against the IMF/World Bank annual meeting in Prague next month.

Leading Social Democrats cut links with private firm

The Prime Minister Milos Zeman and his deputy Vladimir Spidla have both severed all links with the private firm "Cil" that owns the headquarters of their party, the Social Democrats. Their involvement with the firm had led to accusations of conflicting interests, but a party official said that neither had ever enjoyed any financial gain from his connection with the firm. He also denied claims that the Social Democrats, as the sole shareholder in the firm, are breaking the law outlining the rights and obligations of political parties.

Austrian government minister says no to EU expansion

The Austrian Defence Minister, Herbert Scheibner, who belongs to the far right Freedom Party, has said that the Czech Republic and Slovenia should be barred from joining the European Union unless they rescind post-war decrees seizing German owned property. In an interview for an Austrian magazine he contradicted the Foreign Ministry's position that there is no link between the two issues. He said it was essential for the legal system of an EU candidate country not to contain elements which formed the basis for the expulsion and murder of hundreds of thousands of people.

Cheb shooting

A man was killed in a shoot-out over the weekend in the western town of Cheb, close to the German border. In the incident another man was shot in the hand. Local police have launched an investigation, but so far are baffled over what might have provoked the incident.

Military recreation

There were some extraordinary scenes in the north-eastern town of Kraliky over the weekend, as military history enthusiasts tried to recreate battle scenes that could have occurred had Czechoslovakia and Germany gone to war at the end of the 1930s. Some twenty thousand people came to watch, as mock Czechoslovak and German troops battled it out to win control over concrete defences built on Czechoslovakia's northern borders during the '30s. At the same time a military history museum was opened in the town. During the Second World War Czechoslovakia and Germany never engaged in military conflict, because the Munich Agreement of 1938 deprived Czechoslovakia of its borderlands and led to the disintegration of the country.

Police intervenes at technoparty

Police intervened over the weekend to end the latest in a wave of summer open-air technoparties. Over 6000 young people converged on the lakeside village of Stare Splavy some sixty kilometers north of Prague. On Sunday morning police broke up the gathering, saying that some 300 participants had refused to respect a prior agreement that the party would end at eight in the morning. After the event, participants said it had been a great success, while many local residents complained that the level of noise and disturbance was intolerable.

And finally a look at the weather...

It looks set to remain cloudy for the rest of the day with showers and the occasional thunderstorm, and cooler temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius. It should get brighter as the week progresses, but temperatures will remain quite autumnal, at around 20 degrees.

And that's the end of the news.