News of Radio Prague

Transport Ministry blockade continues as Zeman backs Schling

Hundreds of protesting drivers once again blockaded Prague's Transport Ministry building on Thursday morning, stopping traffic in surrounding streets and on a nearby bridge in their protest against Transport Minister Jaromir Schling. On Wednesday around 700 drivers - mostly driving school instructors and second hand car importers - held sporadic blockades of streets, bridges and tunnels in the city centre. They are angry at new laws that limit the age of imported cars and tighten regulations for obtaining drivers' licenses. They accuse Mr Schling of arrogance and incompetence, and say the protest will continue until he steps down. The Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has rejected their calls for his resignation. Police have once again advised drivers to avoid the centre of Prague.

European Parliament says Czechs must contemplate Temelin shutdown

The European Parliament passed a resolution on the Czech Republic on Wednesday, which includes a passage that says the country must at least contemplate shutting down its controversial Temelin nuclear power station. The European Parliament said any study of the environmental impact of Temelin must include the hypothetical option of closing down the plant altogether. The plant's operators, the state-owned energy utility CEZ, and the Czech Trade and Industry Ministry have rejected the resolution, saying it was a political declaration which merely represented the views of Green Party MEPs.

Austrian opposition: Klestil must discuss Temelin with Havel

Meanwhile the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, is to pay a state visit to Austria on Thursday, and Austria's opposition Social Democrats urged President Thomas Klestil to make safety at Temelin top priority during his talks. The appeal by the opposition's environment spokeswoman followed a statement by President Klestil's office that Temelin would not be at the centre of the discussions. Austrian politicians of all parties are heavily opposed to Temelin, which lies 60 kilometres from the country's northern border. They say its mixture of Soviet design and Western technology is dangerous, and point to a number of teething problems at the plant. The Czech authorities say the plant is safe and conforms to the highest standards.

Cabinet approves draft 2002 budget

The Czech cabinet has approved the draft budget for 2002, with a proposed deficit of 52.2 billion Czech crowns. The government predicted incomes of 700 billion crowns and expenditures of 752.2 billion, and there were substantial budget cuts for a number of ministries. The government also said it was raising the subsistence level by an average 7.6 percent from 1 October.

Government postpones visas for Romanians until November

The government has postponed the introduction of visas for Romanian citizens wishing to visit the Czech Republic. A cabinet spokesman said the visa regime would be introduced on November 1st, one month later than planned. He said the delay was to allow the Foreign Ministry time to prepare the Czech Embassy in Bucharest for the introduction of the measures. However the move to introduce visas for Romanians has been controversial. Unofficial sources say the Czech Foreign Ministry wanted to delay the decision to make sure the country was acting in line with the European Union, which is expected to lift visas for Romanian citizens from 2002.

Body parts man to be given psychiatric tests to ascertain legal sanity

Police in Prague say a man accused of killing his girlfriend and sending her dismembered body in the post will be given psychiatric tests this week to determine whether he was legally sane at the time of the murder. The man, who has not been named, has reportedly confessed to killing his girlfriend and dismembering her body in their Prague flat. He then sent some of the body parts by post to fictitious addresses in South Moravia. The uncollected packages were eventually opened by post office employees.

Czech World Cup hopes still alive after 3:2 victory over Malta

The Czech Republic kept alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup finals on Wednesday, after beating Malta 3:2 in their group three qualifying match in Teplice.

After a humiliating 3-1 away defeat to tiny Iceland at the weekend, the Czechs needed the win to rejuvenate their campaign to qualify for the 2002 finals in Japan. The Czech Republic must now draw with Bulgaria at home on October 6 to retain their chances of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

Czech troops in Macedonia: British food getting better

Czech paratroopers taking part in NATO's Essential Harvest weapons collection operation in Macedonia have praised the food served by their British colleagues. The paratroopers, who are stationed with a British unit near the Macedonian capital Skopje, said initial problems with food shortages had now been overcome. The Czech soldiers said the British had started serving bigger portions, adding they now had the choice of four main meals plus cake and ice cream for dessert.

Weather forecast

And finally a quick look at the weather. A band of cold air from the north-west will continue to hang over the Czech Republic on Friday, bringing with it more cloudy and rainy weather. Temperatures in the daytime will rise to a maximum of 18 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 7 degrees.