News Monday, SEPTEMBER 18th, 2000

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By Rob Cameron

From Monday September 18th Radio Prague's broadcasts in English on the f101.1 FM frequency in Prague will change. Instead of our current times of 7.15am, 1.15pm and 5.30pm, we will broadcast a fifteen-minute programme at 9.45am, and our half-hour programme will move to the later time of 9.30 in the evening. You will also be able to hear our broadcasts not only in Prague but also on the BBC's FM frequencies in other Czech towns and cities.

Prague braces itself for start of IMF meeting

Prague is bracing itself for the beginning of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the first such meeting to be held in the former Communist bloc. The three-day IMF/World Bank session itself begins on September 26th, but the first of dozens of seminars and briefings which precede the session begins on Tuesday. Police say up to 20,000 demonstrators are expected to arrive in Prague over the next two weeks, many of whom will try to disrupt sessions attended by around 18,000 delegates from the financial world. Some 11,000 police officers will be deployed to maintain order, after the Czech government vowed there would be no repeat of the violent scenes accompanying similar meetings in Washington and Seattle last year. Schools and many businesses will close down, and some countries have advised their citizens to avoid Prague for the duration of the meeting.

Two killed, one seriously injured in house explosion

Two people were killed and a third seriously injured on Saturday in an explosion at a house in the outskirts of Prague. Firemen said they were still sifting through the wreckage of the house in the village of Cerveny Ujezd for clues to what caused the explosion. They said a gas leak was one possible explanation, although an eyewitness claimed the explosion was caused by a cylinder of propane gas.

Zeman, Havel reject pressure from Austrian environmentalists over Temelin

Both the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, and the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, have rejected the possibility of talks with Austrian environmentalists opposed to the launch of the Temelin nuclear power station, after protestors blocked all border crossings on the Czech-Austrian border on Friday. All twelve crossing points between the two countries were blocked for several hours, the third in a series of blockades initiated by Austrian protestors earlier this month. Both men said the Czech Republic would not be forced to negotiate under pressure.

Zeman welcomes new G.D.P. figures

Prime Minister Zeman has said he is 'cautiously satisfied' with new figures released by the Czech Statistics Office, which show Czech G.D.P. growing by just under 2 percent in the second quarter of this year. Mr Zeman said that the figures were due primarily to a rapid growth in investment. He added, however, that the Czech economy was still at risk from problems his government was powerless to influence, naming the value of the euro against the dollar and the price of oil and natural gas. The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, told reporters that not even the opposition could derive satisfaction from such a slow rate of economic growth.

Motejl defeated again - judicial reform rejected

The Justice Minister, Otakar Motejl, has suffered a further defeat in his plans to reform the Czech judicial system. The lower house of parliament rejected his latest proposals on Friday for reform of the court system. The defeat follows the rejection in May of plans to reform the criminal code and the Constitution. Mr Motejl, the only non-affiliated minister in the minority Social Democrat government, threatened to resign in May after the bills were defeated in parliament.

Czechs clinch first gold at Sydney Olympics

And the Czech Republic have won their first gold medal at the Sydney Olympics - Stepanka Hilgertova won the women's kayak slalom singles, beating France's Brigitte Guibal and Anne-Lise Bardet. It was the Czech Republic's second medal at the games - on Sunday Jan Rehula won the bronze in the men's triathlon, behind Germany's Stephan Vuckovic who came second and Canada's Simon Whitfield who took the gold.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather - Monday will see more cool and cloudy weather, with rain expected in places. Daytime temperatures will reach a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius.