News Monday, MARCH 01th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.


Opposition leaders have called on Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich to resign in the light of allegations that the office which documents and investigates the crimes committed by the Communist regime has been supervised by a former instructor at a police academy which trained officers of the Communist security police -- the StB.

Czech Radio identified the man at the weekend as Jaroslav Saveljev, an employee of the interior ministry's supervisory department.

The ministry refused to comment on the affair. Social Democrat Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich, who is in hospital, was not available for comment, either.


The man who briefly interrupted Friday's ceremony in Prague preceding the country's accession to NATO says that the hooliganism charges brought against him are false and politically tendentious.

Leftist radical Jan Krecek set light to a NATO logo and blew a whistle in protest as President Vaclav Havel was in the process of signing the ratification accords under which the Czech Republic becomes a fully-fledged member of the alliance in two weeks' time.

Krecek, who was briefly held after the incident at Prague Castle, says it was his form of protest against the rejection of a referendum on entering NATO.

He said on Sunday that if he goes on trial he hopes to have the backing of the Czech First Lady Dagmar Havlova, who whistled in protest against verbal attacks on her husband by a far-right party during a presidential election more than one year ago.

Mr Krecek, editor of the anarchist magazine Konfrontace, was among the organisers of last year's violent Global Street party in Prague.


Former Czech trade minister Karel Kuehnl expects the state budget deficit to climb to 90,000 million crowns.

Mr Kuehnl, who served in the short-lived interim cabinet of Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky in the first half of last year, has told private TV Nova that the deficit in the public spending sphere could be three times higher than last year, and could amount to three percent of GDP.

Kuehnl accused the ruling Social Democrats of doing nothing to reverse the trend. He predicted that state finances could collapse.


Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy has arrived in Washington at the start of a Trans-Atlantic Forum of the Western European Union.

The three-day meeting, which starts on Monday, will discuss Europe's security architecture and its ties with North America.

The Western European Union coordinates Europe's military policies and is a unifying link between the European Union and NATO.

The Czech Republic and another nine post-communist nations have been associate partners of the WEU since 1994.


Prague's Radio-by-Wire, a system of distributing Czech Radio's signal in the capital city by means of telephone links, was phased out on Sunday after more than 45 years of distinguished service.

Czech Telecom said it would gradually phase the system out nationally within the next few weeks. Telecom said the system, devised in the early fifties, was so outdated it could not be upgraded in a sensible way. The number of subscribers has dwindled dramatically in the past few years.

Radio by Wire was launched in 1953 with the aim of providing quality radio reception throughout the country. The network was completed in 1962.


Monday is the last day for drivers in the Czech Republic to pay mandatory insurance for their vehicles.

Police spokeswoman Ivana Moosova said on Sunday that drivers unable to prove they have paid the insurance will be fined on the spot during random checks. She said police were under obligation to report non-payers to the service provider Ceska Pojistovna.


U.S. guitarist and singer Hiram Bullock on Monday opens this year's Agharta Jazz Festival in Prague's legendary Lucerna Music Bar.

The festival's organisers said on Sunday that the festival would retain its loose format, with concerts spread evenly over the whole year.

Bullock is a cross-over artists and his playing took Prague by storm last year. He will appear in trio with drummer Clint De Ganon and bassist Steve Logan.


Now a look at the weather -- and Monday will be a wet day here in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs between five and nine degrees Celsius.

Tuesday will be much the same, with nighttime lows between zero and four degrees above, and maximum daytime temperatures again from five to nine degrees.

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