News Monday, JUNE 28th, 1999

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


Czech President Vaclav Havel visited Kosovo on Sunday during a stopover visit from Albania where he called on the international community to support peaceful coexistence in the Balkans.

Havel spoke to locals in the village of Pirane near Prizren and was briefed by KFOR soldiers on the peace mission. Czech Television said the visit lasted about four hours.

Earlier in Tirana, Havel thanked his Albanian counterpart Rexhep Meidani for the role that country played in accepting numerous refugees.

Havel's visit was controversial because several Czech politicians criticised the president for having visited the province without an invitation from Belgrade.


First members of the Czech reconnaissance unit to serve with the KFOR peacekeeping forces in Kosovo will leave their base in the Moravian town of Prostejov on Monday, to be followed on Tuesday by the rest of the 126-member team, which includes two women.

The unit will travel by train. Their journey across Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia is expected to take about one week. The unit's commander said on Sunday the company could be deployed and be fully operational by July 6.

In about six months' time, the ultimate number of Czech peacekeepers in Kosovo could reach 800.


A mass was served on Sunday in Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral for the late Czech Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, who would have been 100 years old on Wednesday.

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, who celebrated the mass, described Tomasek as a dauntless opponent of the Communist regime and a pillar of faith, although the authorities made every attempt to isolate him from the rest of society.

Cardinal Tomasek was in charge of the Prague diocese from 1965 till 1991, when he resigned as the Church's oldest serving bishop. He died in 1992 at the age of 93.


French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has paid tribute to Jiri Pelikan – one of the leaders of the Prague Spring 1968 short-lived attempt to lend a human face to Communism. Pelikan died in Rome on Saturday.

Jospin paid his tribute in a message to Czech President Vaclav Havel and the deceased activist's family.

Jospin said on Sunday that all his life, in Czechoslovakia as well as in Italy where he found refuge after the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of his country, Pelikan had remained faithful to the ideals of freedom, democracy and justice.

Under his tenure as director, the state-run Czechoslovak Television became a media support of ideas coined by Alexander Dubcek and other proponents of the democratisation drive more than 30 years ago.


A rally at the graveside of an executed Czech opponent of Communism on Sunday paid tribute to all victims of the country's totalitarian regime, toppled in a bloodless revolution almost 10 years ago.

National Socialist member of parliament Milada Horakova was hanged 49 years ago after being sentenced as a traitor in a Communist-orchestrated show trial. Her unlawful verdict was cancelled in 1990.


A former Czech interior minister, 46-year-old Jan Ruml, has for the seventh time failed the entry test to get into law school.

Ruml's worst marks were in the foreign-language section of the matriculation exam late last week at the University of Western Bohemia law school in Plzen. The leader of the opposition Freedom Union party shrugged off his failure.

He told reporters on Sunday that six of the times he had failed were under the communists before the Iron Curtain fell in 1989. He said this had been only his first time under proper conditions.

In a related development, the stepdaughter of President Vaclav Havel, Nina Novakova, passed the same test with flying colours.


Horseracing and the 73rd Czech Derby on Prague's Chuchle Race Court was won on Sunday by three-year-old Ray of Light and Jockey Kamil Pichal – the biggest favourites of the race. The winner, who earned a one-million-crown premium for his FCC Folprecht stable, is coached by Frantisek Holcak.

The Czech Republic's second-toughest horserace attracted 14 participants.


Over 20 thousand aviation buffs gathered at Roudnice nad Labem this weekend for the fifth biannual Memorial Air Show a tribute to World War Two Czech air pilots.

A hundred and twenty aircraft were on display, including the legendary British Spitfire fighters, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, and a Soviet-built Polikarpov biplane.

Czech planes were left out due to a ban on display participation because of a series of recent fatal accidents.


Now for a look at the weather.

On Monday, we expect daytime highs between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius in most parts of the Czech Republic, but there will be some scattered showers and thunderstorms.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the early morning lows will be from 10 to 14 degrees, and daytime temperatures between 21 and 25 Celsius. Again, be prepared for frequent showers.

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