News Monday, MAY 03th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Skinhead march evokes protests

The Movement for Civic Solidarity and Tolerance /HOST/ says it will file charges of racism against some participants in Saturday's skinhead march through Prague. It claims to have video-recordings of the skinheads executing the Nazi salute, wearing T-shirts with the swastika and symbols of fascist bands. Given the fact that all this was recorded in the course of the May Day march the movement's spokesperson criticized the police for turning a blind eye to this blatant show of racism.

Police chief defends his men

Meanwhile, police chief Antonin Fedorko has defended his subordinates, saying the police units which struggled to prevent clashes between anarchists and skinheads had done a good job and not violated the law at any point. The police which guaranteed the skinheads safe passage through Prague, clashed with a crowd of anarchists in order to clear the way and prevent a street riot, a police spokeswoman said. Nine policemen sustained light injuries in the skirmishes, two police cars were overturned and around 20 anarchists arrested. The spokeswoman said the police had not witnessed any shows of racism during the street march.

Human rights commissioner wants an investigation

In a related development, the government's human rights commissioner Petr Uhl has criticized the Prague city hall for allowing the skinhead march to take place. He described it as a gathering of neo-nazis whom city and state police had afforded protection. If it is true that there were shows of racism during the march, then at the first hint of it the police should have ended the march, Uhl said, expressing the hope that the incident would be investigated.

Pilsen veterans' ride cancelled

The traditional veterans' ride through Pilsen celebrating the town's liberation from Nazi occupation by the US army has been cancelled this year for fear of disturbances in connection with NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. The organizers said they had reason to fear possible attacks by extremists and that several veteran car owners had received anonymous threats. Several days ago someone vandalized the memorial to General Patton's troops spraying it over with red paint.

Field hospital staff leave for Tirana

A one hundred member medical team which is to operate a Czech field hospital in Albania, within operation Allied Harbour, is due to leave for Tirana on Monday. The field hospital is to be stationed near the port of Kavaje, and is to serve both for refugees, locals and NATO troops. It is expected to start operating within a short time. The plane which is taking the medical team out will carry back to Prague around 100 Kosovo refugees from Macedonia who are all reported to be in need of medical attention. "We have been told that this latest group of refugees is in a much worse state of health than those who arrived last week," a Czech social worker told the ctk news agency. Apparently they all have serious health problems and have not been able to receive adequate treatment at their respective camps in Macedonia. This third incoming flight should conclude the first wave of Kosovo refugees admitted by the Czech Republic. Others are to follow after a short break. The Czech interior minister said on Friday that the Czech Republic was prepared to take in an overall number of 5,000 refugees.

Havel-Kavan clear up differences

On his return from an official visit to Canada President Havel received Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan for a private meeting at Lany Chateau. The meeting allegedly served to clear up differences which arose at the NATO summit in Washington over a statement the foreign minister made regarding the Yugoslav crisis. Although few details of the meeting have been released, the foreign minister said he had briefed the president on a Kosovo peace initiative which the Czech Republic is currently debating with several NATO member states and that the President had expressed approval.

Finally a look at the weather:

we can expect a pleasant start to the week with partly cloudy skies and day temps between 17 and 21 degs C. Tuesday and Wednesday should be slightly cooler with day temps between 14 and 18 degs C.