News of Radio Prague

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Stormy scenes in lower house over EU speech by Klaus

There were stormy scenes in the Czech lower house on Friday morning during a debate about a speech made by the opposition Civic Democrats leader Vaclav Klaus in Brussels on Wednesday. Mr Klaus said in the speech that the European Union should consider halting the process of European integration. During the debate on Friday Lubomir Zaoralek of the governing Social Democrats accused Mr. Klaus of causing fear of the EU and used other strong words which he later retracted. Mr. Klaus said Mr. Zaoralek ought to be ashamed of himself and - as chairman of the Chamber - halted the session for an hour to let tempers cool.

Politicians should be clearer about who they represent says Zeman

Meanwhile, Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman has said that if Czech politicians put forward their parties' opinions on foreign trips, they should make it clear that when they do so they are not representing the Czech Republic. The leader of the Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, said Mr. Klaus's speech was a minor matter and not a scandal. On Thursday President Vaclav Havel called on Mr Klaus to explain his words in Brussels.

UMTS mobile network auction ends

The mobile phone operators RadioMobil and Eurotel have both won licences to operate third generation or UMTS mobile phone networks. RadioMobil is to pay 3.86 billion crowns, while Eurotel will pay 3.54 billion. They were the only two participants in the auction which had a starting price of three and a half billion crowns.

Austrian lower house rejects bid to block Czech EU membership

The lower house in the Austrian parliament has rejected calls from opposition parties for Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner to block the preliminary closing of the energy chapter in the Czech Republic's accession talks with the European Union next week. There is a great deal of opposition to the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant in Austria. The plant combines Soviet design and western technology.

Community service for far-right leader

A Prague court has sentenced the head of the far-right National Social Bloc Jan Kopal to 400 hours community service for spreading alarm. Last July Mr Kopal said that Albanian terrorists were going to attack a planned National Social Bloc demonstration in support of former president Slobodan Milosevic,at Prague's Yugoslav embassy.

Czech-Russian relations improving says ambassador to Moscow

The Czech ambassador to Russia Jaroslav Basta has said that Czech-Russian relations are better now than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Basta said relations between the two countries had improved due to a change in Russian foreign policy, the election of Vladimir Putin as president and a realistic approach on the part of the Czechs. Mr Basta also said that Czech exports to Russia were due to rise by twenty to thirty percent this year.

Gathering of devils going too far says priest

A controversy has arisen in the south Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste over the Mikulas, or St. Nicholas, tradition in which trios of people dress up as Mikulas, an angel and the devil. It was the latter who sparked the controversy. A local priest objected to the fact that so many people - many of them children - had attended a public gathering dressed as devils. The priest said the event was going too far in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Local officials agreed that this year's gathering would be the last.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather forecast for this weekend. On Saturday it will be cloudy with occasional sunny spells and there will be snow showers in some areas. The temperature will be minus four to plus one Celsius. Sunday will be cloudy with snow showers and temperatures between minus three and plus one Celsius.