News Monday, MAY 25th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News date: May 25, 1998, 0700 UTC written/read by: Libor Kubik

These are the top Czech stories at this hour. Now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


Social Democrat parliamentary party leader Stanislav Gross did not rule out on Sunday that the Czech Republic's strongest opposition entity could establish cooperation with the Pensioners' Party. Both parties are left-of-centre, and the Pensioners, whose policy is widely considered populist, has lately received favourable approval ratings.

Gross said in an interview to private Nova Television that the Pensioners were very close in many ways to the Social Democrats.

But he said the Pensioners would have to make compromises during potential coalition talks.

The Social Democrats of Lower House Speaker Milos Zeman are widely tipped to win the early election scheduled for June 19 and 20. And according to recent polls, the Pensioners could collect almost nine percent of the vote, which would secure 20 seats for them in the next legislature.

Their possible coalition with the Social and Christian Democrats could gain more than half of the 200 seats in the Czech lower house.


Meanwhile, former Czech premier Vaclav Klaus told his opposition Civic Democratic Party on Sunday that defeating the anti-reformist Social Democrats was their main election goal.

Klaus also unveiled his party's election manifesto, called "Heads Up", and said the ODS was prepared to join the next government.


Czech police vice president Petr Pribyl maintained on Sunday that police did not commit acts of unprovoked violence when dispersing an environmentalist protest in Prague more than a week ago.

In an interview to Czech Public Television, Pribyl dismissed numerous complaints over police brutality against young protesters during the Global Street Party march, some of whose participants reportedly smashed shop windows and looted the goods on display.

But he admitted that at least six protesters -- who say they were subjected to brutal handling after detention -- were suing the police.

The Czech Helsinki Committee has called on Interior Minister Cyril Svoboda to order a probe into the police action.

The protest was against the increasing influence of multinational monopolies on the Czech Republic.

The incidents were described as the most serious since the overthrow of communism in 1989.


Eerie silence prevailed on Sunday on the site in Prague where two construction workers were killed on Friday when a ceiling collapsed in a building under reconstruction in the Zizkov area.

The body of one victim was retrieved from the rubble on Saturday after a more than 24-effort by the rescue teams. Another three workers were taken to hospital with grave injuries. Residents of an adjacent apartment house were evacuated for safety reasons. The damaged building now has to be demolished.

Prague police spokesman Josef Sulcek said on Sunday investigation was under way. He said those found guilty of safety rules neglect would face up to 10 years in jail.


Many parts of the North Moravian town of Olomouc remain without gas supplies after a mysterious fault virtually knocked a gas-distribution station out of operation in the early morning hours of Sunday.

Gas company officials said all gas mains in the town with a population of over 100,000 must be carefully checked before the supply can be restored. The officials admitted this operation could take a few days to complete.

Police in Olomouc asked residents to immediately report any gas leaks or even suspicious odours.

Bottled gas was available from distribution centres and the Olomouc bakery stepped up its production to ensure bread supplies to those unable to prepare food.


An international book fair culminated in Prague on Sunday with the appearance at the exhibition grounds of the American author Evan Hunter, who is better known to readers of detective stories as Ed McBain.

The international celebrity signed hundreds of copies of his famous mystery-and-suspension books.

The keynote of this year's World of Books fair was the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel, whose authors were extremely well represented in Prague.


Runners from Kenya dominated the male section results of Sunday's Prague International Marathon. Elijah Kandie won the race in two hours eight minutes 52 seconds. Runner-up Samson Kandie clocked two hours nine minutes 10 seconds, and South Africa's Ezael Thlobo was 43 seconds slower.

In the women's category, Elena Vinitskaya of Belarus finished first in two hours 34 minutes 25 seconds, followed by Irina Permitina of Russia. Switzerland's Francizska Rochat-Moser finished third.

In tennis, the Czech Republic succumbed to Germany three-love in the World Team Cup finals in Duesseldorf on Sunday.

And the Czechs won the Kirin Football Cup in Yokohama with a goal-less draw with Japan.


And in the news of the weird, Czech sword-swallower Frantisek Brzak from Hodonin broke the world record on Sunday by gorging a 58-centimetre rapier. The 19-year-old business school graduate plans to apply for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.


Finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic in the next two days.

A new low-pressure area will hover above much of western Europe, allowing a fresh supply of warmer air from the southwest into central Europe.

We expect rather low early morning temperatures from four to eight Celsius, but the afternoon highs should be in the low twenties on both days.

And that's the end of the news.