News Monday, NOVEMBER 30th, 1998

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Welcome to Radio Prague. These are the top Czech stories this hour, now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-EU-PORK

Czech Vice Premier Egon Lansky has criticised the European Commission's approach to cheap pork imports into his country.

He said on Sunday that by abruptly increasing subsidies to pork exporters two-fold and cancelling technical consultations with Prague, scheduled for next week, the EU had made a hostile gesture towards the Czech Republic.

The European Commission expressed disappointment on Friday over the moves by the Czech government to restrict imports of pork from the EU to protect its domestic market.

But Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl told Czech Television on Sunday that his meeting with EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler would be held on Monday as planned.

The EC says it has not been officially notified of any Czech government decision on pork but denied it had exported excessive amounts.

The Czech government said earlier this week that a preferential import duty of 15 percent on EU pork imports would be scrapped, raising the tariff to nearly 41 percent.

CZECH-GOVT-POLL

One Czech citizen in two is convinced that the former right-of- centre government of Premier Vaclav Klaus had a poor information policy and attempted to hide some facts from the people.

But according to a poll just out, the new Social Democrat cabinet of Milos Zeman receives slightly better approval ratings in this field. Only one Czech in three thinks they are no better than their predecessors.

The survey conducted by the Sofres-Factum polling agency shows that the caretaker cabinet of Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky fared much better, with only a quarter of those polled saying they were not happy about its information policy.

In contrast, almost half of those questioned said that Czech Radio was a reliable source of unbiased information about government activities. Thirteen percent said that Czech Radio was too critical of the government.

CZECH-DOCTORS-GUILD

The controversial former head of the Czech Doctors' Trade Union Club, David Rath, was elected at the weekend as president of the powerful Medical Guild. He succeeded Dr Bohuslav Svoboda who had served two terms -- the maximum allowed by the Guild's statutes.

Rath's election at a conference in Olomouc was immediately welcomed by Social Democrat Health Minister Ivan David, who said on Sunday that communication between him and Rath's predecessor had been difficult.

Membership of the Guild is compulsory for all Czech physicians who practice their profession.

CZECH-RUSSIA-CRIME

The Czech police have handed over to the Russian security organs nine million dollars' worth of precious stones stolen from a Moscow-based business corporation.

Russia's RTR television said at the weekend that the haul was seized at the end of a three-year-long police operation carried out jointly by the two states.

The television said that the stones had at first been smuggled into Austria before a Russian gang attempted to sell them in Prague. But the ring was broken up by Czech police who have arrested its leader, according to the Moscow TV station.

CZECH-RADIO-ORCHESTRA-USA

The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, which is attached to Czech Radio, has begun its first short concert tour of the United States.

Their week-long tour comprises three concerts in Boston and one in Andover, Massachussetts.

Three concerts will feature contemporary American classics and two will present music from the orchestra's stem national repertoire -- the symphonic poem Sarka by Bedrich Smetana and The New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak.

CZECH-WEATHER

A quick look at the weather -- and a cold front from the east will bring more scattered snow showers and drizzling rain to Central Europe on Monday. Be prepared for cloudy skies, local fogs and daytime temperatures between one degree below freezing and three above.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Czech Republic will find itself at the margin of a low pressure area centred over Italy. Nighttime lows will be from three to seven Celsius below zero, daytime highs around freezing point.

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