News Monday, NOVEMBER 15th, 1999

Radio Prague E-news Date: November 15th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

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

Havel hosts three heads of state

The presidents of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are to meet at Prague Castle on Monday at the invitation of President Havel . The four heads of state are due to hold informal talks at Prague Castle and later attend a performance of Maria Magdalena at the Vinohrady Theatre, held within the framework of the German Language Theatre Festival in Prague. The Swiss head of state Ruth Dreifuss who is here on a state visit is to hold a series of meetings with Czech top officials, including premier Zeman and the speakers of both houses of Parliament.

Police investigate river contamination

Police are investigating a serious contamination of the river Elbe . Environmentalists are calling it the worst ecological disaster on the river in the past 40 years. The water was contaminated by an unknown chemical substance which poisoned tons of fish along a five kilometer stretch. Fishermen from the town of Nymburk who reported the incident say that they find poisoned fish along that stretch of the river as often as three times a year but that the contamination had never been so bad.

Chechen minister's visit causes controversy

Controversy surrounds Monday's visit to the Czech Republic by Chechnya's foreign minister Ilja Achmadov. He has been invited by the People in Distress Foundation and the Czech foreign ministry has officially distanced itself from the visit, saying that the Chechen foreign minister would not be meeting with Czech government representatives. The president's office has likewise confirmed that there are no plans to receive Achmadov at Prague Castle. Meanwhile, the Civic Democratic Alliance, a small right wing party on the margin of the Czech political scene, has slammed government officials for their cautious stand arguing that the Czech government should take a clear stance with regard to the Russian-Chechen conflict and put diplomatic pressure on Russia to end the bloodshed. Michal Doktor, deputy for the Civic Democratic Party in the Lower House has called on President Havel to use the weight of his moral authority to help bring to an end the human suffering in Chechnya.

Aid to Turkey

Preparations are underway for more humanitarian aid to be dispatched to Turkey in the wake of Friday's natural disaster. The Czech government has earmarked one and a half million crowns in humanitarian aid and the Czech branch of the Red Cross as well as the Civic Association ADRA have appealed for public donations. Close to 400 people were killed in the quake and 2,900 are reported injured. Thousands have been left homeless and there is reportedly a shortage of tents, warm blankets and clothes for those who are still spending their days and nights out in the open. A Czech rescue team with sniffer dogs, firefighters and a Czech field hospital have been operating in the region these past two days.

Finally a look at the weather:

Monday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies across the Czech Republic with drizzle and snow showers in the higher altitudes. Day temps between minus one and plus three degs C. Nighttime lows minus two to minus six degs.