News of Radio Prague

Czech Defence Minister claims new L-159 planes are unreliable

Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has gone on record saying that the L-159 fighter planes produced by Aero Vodochody are unreliable, suggesting that the planes may present more of a danger for their pilots than they would present for potential enemies. Recently, there were suggestions within the army that the ordered L-159 fighter planes would never be used, and even the U.S. government has expressed bafflement over the Czech army's signing of what is considered to be an unfavourable deal. The Czech army ordered 72 models of the L-159 fighter jet to be built, under a contract that cost the Czech army more than 50 billion Czech Crowns. Although 90 percent of the bill has been paid, the army has still received less than half the models, many of which have shown early faults in design. Five of the fighter planes have already been forced into repairs. According to the Defence Minister, the L-159 project is having an overall negative economic impact on the armed services.

Police press charges against media magnate's lawyer

Czech police have intensified their efforts in the on-going investigation of Czech media magnate Vladimir Zelezny's business practices. Mr Zelezny is the general director of TV NOVA, the Czech Republic's most successful private television station, which has been embroiled in a legal battle with former American investors CME since 1999. On Sunday police questioned Mr Zelezny's personal lawyer and close business associate Ales Rozehnal, on his connection with the station, in particular on his role in the cutting off of TV NOVA's original service organisation, owned by CME. The American investors charged that Mr Rozehnal played a key role in the split, which sidelined the Americans from any further profits from the station, when he produced a series of so-called "magic" contracts, which Mr Zelezny used to argue that TV NOVA was never legally bound to rely soley on CME's services. Now it appears that Czech police have cast doubt on the validity of those contracts, and on Monday they charged Mr Rozehnal with fraud. The charges cast serious doubt on the legality of Vladimir Zelezny's move away from CME, and the restarting of TV NOVA under a different service organisation in September 1999.

American president George Bush has given the go-ahead for a statue of Czechoslovakia's first president T.G. Masaryk to be placed in Washington

American president George Bush has given the green light for a statue of the first Czechoslovak president T.G. Masaryk to be placed in Washington, in the Czech politician's honour. Masaryk had close diplomatic ties with the United States, and relied partly on U.S. support for the founding of Czechoslovakia at the end of World War I. As a politician and as a philosopher who laboured for the creation of Czechoslovakia, Masaryk remains one of the Czech Republic's most revered historical figures even sixty-four years after his death. Masaryk was president of Czechoslovakia from 1918 - 1935. One of the sites being considered for Masaryk's statue is the space before the prestigious World Bank in Washington.

Czech Publisher of Mein Kampf sentenced

A district court in Prague has given publisher Michal Zitko a suspended sentence of 3 years in jail for publishing the Czech version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. The publisher was also given a fine of 2 million Czech Crowns, or approximately 53 000 USD, in the appealed trial. The verdict is the same as the one handed out to the publisher in December last year, when Zitko was first found guilty of support and propaganda of movements interested in the suppression of human rights and freedoms. Mr Zitko has appealed the decision once again, at a higher court.


And now a look at the weather. Tuesday will be partly cloudy, with a possibility of rain showers. Temperatures will reach highs of 10 degrees Celsius.