News of Radio Prague

State budget approved by cabinet, little chance of passing in parliament

On Monday, the Czech government approved the final draft of the state budget for 2002. It envisages a deficit amounting of over 52 billion Czech crowns. Revenues are expected to be 700 billion crowns while expenditures are planned to reach 752.2 billion. The main opposition party, the Civic democrats, have said they're not going to support the budget. They consider the revenues seriously overestimated and claim that these statistics rely on uncertain sources. Other opposition parties have also said they would vote against the budget in its present form. The draft budget will be sent to parliament for discussion by the end of September.

Gross: Czech Republic has no supplies of anthrax or botulism

The Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has said there are no significant amounts of the deadly biological agents anthrax and botulism available either legally or illegally in the Czech Republic. Mr Gross said samples had been provided in the past to two military bodies and several civil laboratories, but added that these should have been destroyed. He said an investigation was now underway to confirm this was the case. Earlier the Health Ministry said that only two laboratories had samples of the biological agents but they were kept under the strictest supervision. Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed this week that members of an Albanian-based terrorist group linked to the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden had bought phials of anthrax and botulism from a laboratory in the Czech Republic. The claims were made by an expert on Islamic terrorism, and were based on transcripts of interrogations of the group's members by Egyptian police.

Gross to check foreign pilots trained in Czech Republic

And Mr Gross has also announced that the authorities will check all foreign pilots who received training in Czech aviation facilities in the last 15 years. Mr Gross said the investigation was in response to speculation that terrorists could have been trained as pilots in the Czech Republic or the former Czechoslovakia. He said any information would be given to colleagues in the United States.

Tvrdik apologises for 'tractors to bin Laden' remarks

Meanwhile the Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has apologised for his comments about the Czech tractor manufacturer Zetor, which have caused anger among representatives of the company. On Sunday Mr Tvrdik used Zetor as an example of the thousands of Czech-made goods allegedly sold to companies controlled by Osama bin Laden, saying the world must fight an economic war against the Saudi militant, accused of masterminding Tuesday's attacks on the United States. A spokesman for Zetor denied any knowledge of any such deals, and Mr Tvrdik apologised for damaging the company's reputation.

Number of Czechs officially missing falls to 83

The Foreign Ministry has said the number of Czechs registered as missing since Tuesday has now fallen to 83. A ministry official repeated that there was no evidence to suggest that any Czech citizens had been either killed or injured in the attacks. Earlier the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who was released from hospital on Friday following treatment for kidney stones, met the U.S. Ambassador to Prague Craig Stapleton. Mr Zeman added a bouquet of flowers to the many wreaths lining the pavement outside the building.

Lawyers: far-right leader could be prosecuted for U.S. comments

Lawyers have said the leader of the far-right National Social Bloc, Jan Kopal, could be prosecuted for saying the United States deserved the attacks in retaliation for what he described as the country's role in international terrorism. Mr Kopal told a gathering at the weekend that the attacks were revenge for such actions as the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in March 1999. The National Social Bloc is a new organisation bringing together several far-right groups, and has a strong skinhead following.


And finally, a quick look at the weather. Tuesday will see a band of low pressure moving across the country from the south-east, bringing with it more cloudy and rainy weather. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 6 degrees Celsius.