News of Radio Prague

Salikh released from jail, pending extradition hearing

Uzbekistan's exiled opposition leader Mukhammed Salikh was released from custody on Tuesday pending an extradition hearing. A Prague court ruled in favour of his release on the grounds that he was not likely to flee the country. A Czech state attorney plans to question Mr Salikh on Wednesday in connection with Uzbek claims that he is responsible for a 1999 bombing in Tashkent that killed 16 people. An extradition hearing is expected later this week. Mukhammed Salikh's detention on an Interpol arrest warrant two weeks ago has triggered protests from human rights groups and the Norwegian government who claim that the charges against Mr. Salikh were fabricated by his political rivals. They have warned Prague that the Uzbek opposition leader faces certain death if he is extradited to his homeland. President Havel wants to meet with the Uzbek opposition leader on Wednesday.

Czechs reassure NATO about planned purchase of fighter jets

Officials have assured NATO that the planned purchase of 24 Gripen supersonic fighter jets for the Czech Air Force will not endanger the ongoing reform of the armed forces. The Czech Republic's NATO ambassador Karel Kovanda told the CTK press agency that officials in Brussels were worried that the financial burden of acquiring the supersonic fighter jets might hinder the fulfillment of the country's commitments as a NATO member. On Monday the Czech Cabinet approved the long-debated and highly controversial purchase of 24 fighter jets from the British-Swedish consortium BAE-Systems/Saab for an estimated 50 billion crowns or 1.35 billion dollars. The Cabinet's plan has received backing from President Havel but is expected to lead to disputes in Parliament, since some deputies feel that the country can not afford the expense.

Government releases "road map" on Temelin

The Czech government has released a "road-map" timetable for implementing an agreement with the Austrian government aimed at guaranteeing the safe operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant. The timetable calls for meeting all seven of Austria's demands for the controversial power station by the end of 2004. The first step will be a meeting, within the next six months, to outline emergency measures in the event of a radiation leak. In the course of 2002 experts will address safety-related issues such as high energy pipelines, valves and safety components. Seismic-related problems will be tackled in 2003 and reactor vessel safety will be addressed in 2004. The timetable is at the core of an agreement signed two weeks ago in Brussels under which Prague agreed to meet higher safety standards in return for Vienna's promise to not to block the energy chapter in EU accession talks.

Czechs pay homage to victims of US tragedy

Commemorative gatherings were held in Prague and the west Bohemian town Pilsen on the afternoon of November 11th, in memory of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States. At Prague Castle, the Czech flag was flown at half mast as Prague Castle guards and US army officers stood to attention and the assembled crowd held a minute of silence. In the town of Pilsen the US ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton, laid a wreath at a memorial stone dedicated to US troops who liberated Pilsen from the Nazis in 1945. The memorial, which says "Thank you America" was surrounded by flowers and candles.

80 immigrants detained by Austrian border patrols

In the course of the past three days, Austrian border guards detained a total of 80 refugees attempting to cross illegally from the neighbouring Czech Republic and Slovakia. The majority were reported to be from Afghanistan, Armenia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The Czech Republic has had growing problems with illegal immigrants in recent years which recently led Parliament to pass a tighter new asylum law. Although the authorities report a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers, many still use the Czech Republic as a transit country, paying smugglers huge amounts of money on their way to a better life in Western Europe.

Weather forecast

More snow is expected to fall overnight with temps dropping slightly below 0. Wednesday should be overcast with scattered snow-showers and temps between 0 and 3 degs.