News Monday, FEBRUARY 01th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to you from Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


An independent Czech commercial television has alleged that a large sum of money may have been embezzled from the funds paid by Saudi Arabia to former Czechoslovakia for its role in the Gulf War eight years ago.

TV PRIMA reported late on Sunday that about 48 million crowns were probably stolen. Former Czechoslovak commander in the Gulf Jan Valo was quoted as saying the veterans were still waiting for a plausible explanation from either the Ministry of Defence or the Czech National Bank.

Czechoslovakia despatched an anti-chemical unit to the Gulf in 1991 to help the Allied forces oust Iraqi troops from occupied Kuwait.


Government minister in charge of security services Jaroslav Basta was unable to deny or confirm on Sunday that the letters, which reportedly have led to the removal of BIS secret service chief Karel Vulterin from office, were not obtained officially from the British counterintelligence agency MI6.

The information about the letters was disclosed by private TV NOVA. Speaking in a debate programme on the same station, Basta was unable to deny that one of the letters was sent by a Prague-based British agent, who could be blackmailed because of gay orientation and who at the same time is a close friend of National Security Bureau chief Tomas Kadlec.

BIS director Karel Vulterin was sacked during Wednesday's closed session of the Czech cabinet, reportedly because his agency failed to inform the government about the presence in Prague of an Iraqi terrorist who planed attacks against the Prague-based Radio Free Iraq.

The government reportedly offered Vulterin to save his face by handing in his resignation but he declined.

Ivan Langer from the parliamentary commission to monitor the BIS has told the CTK news agency that the British letters were official whilst Vulterin described them as informal during Friday's hearings before the commission.

TV NOVA alleged on Sunday that Vulterin's dismissal had in fact been masterminded by Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who said late last year that an Iraqi terrorist was operating in the Czech Republic. Kavan is said to be on friendly terms with the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, to whom the MI6 is directly subordinated.


Independent candidates have scored a landslide in fresh local elections held at the weekend in three Czech communities. In Prague's Dubec Borough, independents took nine seats in the 15- member local council. At Planany near Kolin in eastern Bohemia, independent candidates won three seats of the nine available.

About 70 percent of those eligible to vote came to the polls in all the three districts where November's communal elections were found to have been rigged and their outcomes were declared null and void.


A leading Czech human rights activist is suing the police for assaulting him and holding him illegally after an incident in a Prague restaurant.

The government's human rights aide Stanislav Penc says he was brutally assaulted by police on Wednesday and was taken into a two- hour custody. The incident happened when he and another noted activist, Kumar Vishnawathan, were dining out.

Penc said he was brutally assaulted and injured by uniformed police without identification tags. The police said Penc was drunk and could not produce identification papers.

Penc's lawyer says his client is being targeted by the police because he monitors and documents cases of police violence.


Some Czech Internet servers have joined an all-European strike to protest against the national telecommunications companies' monopoly in this field. Reports about protest actions on the web are coming from all parts of the Old Continent.

Last year's boycott of the Internet by most Czech users compelled the monopoly SPT Telecom to introduce advantageous special tariffs for Internet users operating on the telephone.


"Thirty Days for the Civil Sector" is the keynote of a month-long publicity campaign which starts on Monday with the aim of showcasing the activities of Czech non-profit organisations.

Scheduled to run through March 2, the project is organised by the Olga Havlova Foundation and other prominent public institutions.

The underlying purpose, according to Jana Ryslinkova from the Foundations Information Centre, is to highlight the significance of the civil sector as an important partner to the state and private sectors. Ryslinkova said on Sunday that non-profit organisations can help a lot at times of economic slowdown and a generally unfavourable situation in the Czech Republic.

An international forum of non-profit organisations on February 26 will be co-hosted by President Vaclav Havel and his former German colleague Richard von Weizsaecker.


Finally, the weather.

Monday will bring us cloudy skies and scattered snow showers. Daytime highs will be somewhat more clement than at the weekend when the weather was really freezing. The temperatures will be between one and five Celsius below zero.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we expect more snow and cloudy skies. Nighttime lows will drop to between two and six below freezing, and up to minus 10 degrees where the skies clear up. Maximum daytime temperatures on both days will be from minus four to zero Celsius.

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