News of Radio Prague

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President Havel taken to hospital again

President Vaclav Havel was taken to the Military Hospital in Prague on Monday evening suffering from breathing problems. Tests confirmed that a part of his right lung was blocked up. Mr. Havel's doctor, Ilja Kotik, informed journalists that although Mr. Havel had no fever, the president was given antibiotics to prevent inflammation of the lung. The president suffers from chronic bronchitis and is often ill - last year alone, he was in hospital three times. On Monday President Havel held talks with his Polish counterpart Alexander Kwasniewski, but it was clear at a press conference given by the two presidents that Havel was not completely well.

Sate stakes in key industries sold to private firms

After a heated debate on Monday the Czech government made a decision about the sale of the state's shares in the energy, gas and petrochemical industries to private companies. The state had planned to sell the electricity company CEZ and its six distribution firms, the gas giant Transgas and its eight distribution firms and the petrochemical holding company Unipetrol in one single package. In the end the cabinet decided to sell its stake in Transgas to the German company RWE Gas for 133 billion Czech crowns, and a 63 percent state stake in Unipetrol was sold for 12 billion crowns to the Czech company Agrofert. The sale of the CEZ electricity company has been postponed until January 7th, with the cabinet announcing they would not sell for less than 200 billion crowns. Meanwhile, Unipetrol's shares on the Prague stock-exchange fell dramatically after the new owner's name was announced.

High ranking Communist official before court for abuse of power

The trial of a prominent figure from the communist era, Lubomir Strougal began at a Prague court on Monday. The 77-year-old Strougal, who held the post of minister of the interior in the 1960s, is facing charges of abuse of power. In 1965 he allegedly ordered his ministry's inspectors to drop an investigation into three murders committed in 1948 by the communist secret police. Mr. Strougal says he did not approve the inspectors' report on the case because it was misleading - that is why he did not pass it on the state attorney. The report contained information on rank-and-file secret police members, and did not mention the responsibility of senior communist officials in the case, Strougal told the court. The trial was due to continue on Tuesday.

ODA claims it's being bullied by ill-famed politicians

The chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance, the ODA, Michael Zantovsky has said that reports suggesting that the party has huge debts amounting to 70 million crowns are an attack on the ODA's good reputation and independence. The ODA is a junior member of the centre-right Four Party Coalition. The party has filed a lawsuit against entrepreneur Radim Masny. Mr. Masny said that he would buy the party's debt and it would then cease to exist. Mr. Zantovsky said that the same people were behind the reports of the party's debt as were behind Operation Lead, a planned campaign against Social Democrat MP Petra Buzkova. Mr. Zantovsky also said that Mr. Masny was acting 'in someone else's interest', and that the whole affair had been perfectly timed to the upcoming pre-election period.

Four party coalition would come first in elections if held tomorrow

And - if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, the Four Party Coalition would come first by some margin. A poll by the STEM polling agency suggests that the Four Party Coalition would win the votes of more than 29 percent of respondents. The right-wing Civic democratic party would come second with 20.8 percent and the ruling Social Democrats would finish third with 20.6 percent votes. According to STEM, some two thirds of respondents are prepared to take part in the elections, while 10 percent said they would definitely not go to the polls.

Weather

And finally the weather: Tuesday will be a cloudy to overcast day with frequent snow showers. Daytime highs will be around zero Celsius.