News Monday, OCTOBER 02th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

Havel on ombudsman

President Vaclav Havel says he would like to see Justice Minister Otakar Motejl in the post of ombudsman, or public defender of human rights.

Mr. Havel said he was prepared to accept Mr. Motejl's resignation from his cabinet post. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said that Havel would meet the Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, either today or tomorrow to discuss a replacement for Mr. Motejl.

Minister Motejl is expected to announce his resignation later today. Some reports suggest that he stepped down on Friday without telling the press.

Commie MP raps interior minister

A Communist member of parliament has sharply criticised the Czech Interior Minister for saying he would seek legislative amendments which would prohibit demonstrators from covering their faces and enable police to use rubber bullets against violent protesters.

The deputy, Mr. Zdenek Klanica, said it was very sad to hear somebody say that protesters should be banned from wearing masks and be exposed to police firing rubber projectiles. He said protesters should have the right to hide their identity.

Mr. Gross had said many radicals wore scarves and face masks during violent protests late last month against the Prague meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

He said police should be able to use rubber bullets when facing protesters hurling stones, petrol bombs and other missiles.

Czech envoy seeks recount in Yugoslav elections

The United Nations human rights envoy for the Balkans, Jiri Dienstbier, has called for a recount in the controversial Yugoslav elections.

Mr. Dienstbier, a former Czechoslovak foreign minister, said in Belgrade this was the message he was planning to pass on when he meets in the coming days with representatives of the Serbian government and opposition groups.

Mr. Dienstbier said he was looking for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Yugoslavia and for that reason was urging the opposition to accept a recount.

The opposition says that its presidential candidate, Mr. Vojislav Kostunica, won the election outright. But the federal electoral commission has ruled that he fell short of 50 percent and that a second round of voting will take place on October 8.

Temelin cold testing completed

Cold testing of the first reactor of the controversial Czech nuclear plant at Temelin has been completed successfully. The plant's spokesman says the primary circuit has now been heated to over 60 degrees Celsius.

Repeated tests were ordered last week when some results were found to be not entirely satisfactory.

The Temelin plant, soon to be put into operation, has been severely criticised by neighbouring Austria and Germany as a safety risk. Czech environmental activists are also opposed to putting the plant on line now.

Prague has new general vicar

Prague's Roman Catholic archdiocese has a new general vicar. He is 45-year-old priest Michael Slavik.

Father Michael, who has until now served as Rector of the Archbishopric Seminary, succeeds Bishop Jaroslav Skarvada.

Father Jaroslav has asked Pope John Paul II to be relieved of his duties due to his age.

Czechs theoretically free to use e-signature

Czechs are now free, in theory, to use electronic signatures in dealing with the authorities. The law concerning electronic signature came into effect on October 1.

The bill was passed late in June. However, the national office for the protection of private data, which oversees the implementation of the law, has yet to instruct government ministries and grant accreditation to the agencies empowered to issue relevant certificates.

Olympics: Czechs less successful than in Atlanta

Czech athletes are coming home from the Sydney Olympic Games with fewer gains that in Atlanta four years ago.

The Czech Republic has won a total of eight medals -- two gold, three silver and three bronze -- and finished 28th in the international rating.

The Czech javelin thrower Jan Zelezny is one of nine athletes elected to serve on the International Olympic Committee.

Zelezny, who has Olympic gold medals from three games including the current games in Sydney, has found himself in a distinguished company which includes Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka and former Canadian track-and-field athlete Chairmaine Crooks.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather:

Monday will be a very wet and cloudy day with daytime highs between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius, dropping to between seven and 11 degrees in the night.

Tuesday will be rather wet, with daytime highs between 13 and 17 Celsius and nighttime lows around nine degrees.