News Monday, NOVEMBER 22nd, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first the news headlines.

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Former Christian Democrat leader Lux dies at 43

The former leader of the Christian Democrats, Josef Lux, has died in hospital in America. He was 43. Mr Lux resigned as head of the party last year after being diagnosed with leukaemia. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in a Seattle hospital in September, and was thought to be recovering well before unexpectedly falling ill with pneumonia at the beginning of November. The party´s deputy chairman Cyril Svoboda said he had received no further details other than that Mr Lux had died early on Monday morning. Mr Lux, who was a devout Christian, leaves a wife and six children.

Government meets to discuss sale of remaining stake in Skoda Auto

The government is meeting to discuss whether to sell the remaining 30-percent state share in the successful car manufacturers Skoda Auto. The Volkswagen group, which holds a majority stake in Skoda Auto, has offered eight billion crowns for the remaining share in the company. The discussions coincide with the release of VW Skoda´s latest model, the Fabia, which experts say will be highly successful both at home and on the European market.

Romanies attacked by 30 skinheads in Ceske Budejovice restaurant

A party of Romanies were attacked by a large group of skinheads in a restaurant in the South Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice on Saturday night. According to a report on TV Nova a gang of thirty skinheads burst into the restaurant shortly before midnight, shouting racist slogans and attacking the customers with clubs, chains and broken bottles. A number of people, including a pregnant woman, were injured. Those present at the restaurant have criticised the police for responding slowly to the attack. The police themselves say two skinheads have been charged with hooliganism and criminal damage. A spokesman said the police were now investigating whether the attack was racially motivated.

Havel gives support to call for politicians to stand down

President Vaclav Havel has given his support to a call by former student leaders for the current political elite to stand down. Mr Havel said that he too was in favour of the first generation of post-Communist politicians stepping down to make way for younger people. The petition, entitled "Thank You, Now Get Out", was initiated by six student leaders involved in the 1989 overthrow of Communism, and hundreds of people, including the head of the Catholic Church Cardinal Vlk, have since added their support. The petition has been dismissed as childish and irrelevant by the Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the leader of the main opposition Civic Democrats Vaclav Klaus.

Zeman says Social Democrats to stay until 2002

Meanwhile Prime Minister Zeman has said his minority Social Democrat government will remain in power until 2002, when its four year term of office comes to an end. Addressing members of the party´s Central Executive Committee on Saturday, Mr Zeman said that his government had as promised unleashed a legislative storm, and that the "Clean Hands" anti-corruption campaign was already bearing fruit. The minority government, which is kept in power under a unique power-sharing agreement with the centre-right Civic Democrats, has faced a hail of criticism in recent months and has been damaged by several high-profile corruption scandals.

Ruml: "Opposition Agreement" turning into coalition

The leader of the right-wing Freedom Union, Jan Ruml, has said that Mr Zeman´s decision to postpone a cabinet reshuffle until after the Civic Democrats have held their national conference in December is proof that the "Opposition Agreement" between the two parties is gradually becoming a coalition. Mr Ruml said that his party and others were ready to create a majority centre-right coalition, but that Mr Klaus´s Civic Democrats were blocking the move.

Anarchists protest against death sentence for U.S. activist

Police in Prague prevented a small group of anarchist demonstrators from gathering outside the American embassy on Saturday. The demonstrators were protesting against the planned execution of black activist Mumia Abu Jamal, who was sentenced to death for murdering a policeman in the American state of Pennsylvania. Police made no arrests and the demonstration ended peacefully.

Czech Television goes back in time to November 1989

Czechs were given the opportunity to step back in time on Saturday thanks to the country´s public television network, Czech Television. For the entire day the regular schedule of the network´s second channel CT2 was replaced with authentic programmes from 1989. Viewers were treated to a number of televisual treats, including lengthy speeches by the First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Milous Jakes, a gala performance celebrating Soviet-Czechoslovak friendship and interviews with students of the Klement Gottwald School of Political-Military Studies.

"Ten Years After" celebrations culminate with Kubisova on Wenceslas Square

And finally celebrations to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the overthrow of Communism culminated on Saturday evening with a free concert on Prague's Wenceslas Square. Some 7,000 people braved freezing temperatures to attend the concert, which featured a number of artists who were banned under the Communist regime. One of them, singer Marta Kubisova, ended the concert with a performance of "Prayer for Marta" - the unofficial anthem of both the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The concert was also attended by President Havel, who repeated what he told a crowd of several hundred thousand in 1989 - "truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred."


And we´ll end as usual with a quick look at Tuesday´s weather. And it will be another mostly cloudy day, with snow in places. Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius in the daytime, falling to lows of minus 7 at night.

I'm Rob Cameron and that's the end of the news.