News of Radio Prague

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Havel's condition improves

The condition of Czech President Vaclav Havel, who was taken to hospital on Monday with pneumonia, has improved. The president's doctor said Mr Havel is being treated with antibiotics and the illness is under control, but the president is expected to stay in hospital at least until the end of the week. Mr Havel's spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, has said the president has begun working in bed, signing laws and writing his New Year's speech. The 65-year-old former playwright and anti-Communist dissident has suffered from chronic bronchitis ever since losing half a lung in an operation to remove a cancerous tumour in 1996, and any health problems now cause concern. Mr Havel has been hospitalised four times this year and, under doctors' orders, has been living at Lany Chateau since November to recover from a bout of bronchitis and to avoid the polluted air of the Prague city centre.

No visas for Romanians

The Czech government has decided not to impose visa restrictions on citizens of Romania. The visa regime was to have come into effect at the beginning of January. The cabinet said that the Romanian authorities had taken measures to reduce the number of Romanians seeking asylum in the Czech Republic.

Czech Parliament approves deployment of troops abroad

Both the Czech lower house and the Senate have approved a plan to send up to 400 anti-chemical warfare and medical troops to help the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism. The anti-chemical unit and a field hospital will be sent to Kuwait to join operation "Enduring Freedom". The Senate has yet to approve whether a Czech special forces unit will take part in the planned U.N. peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. The one-year mission of Czech troops could cost up to 1.5 billion crowns, or over 40 million US dollars.

More former communist leaders to stand trial

A Czech state attorney has indicted two former senior Communists for collaborating with the 1968 Soviet-led invasion, adding to the growing number of former Communist rulers either on trial or facing prosecution. In the indictments the Prague state attorney's office named Milos Jakes, the last Communist Party general secretary prior to the 1989 collapse of communism, and Jozef Lenart, a prime minister between 1963 and 1968 who held senior party posts after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Investigators have charged the pair with treason offences, accusing them of plotting with Soviet officials at the Soviet embassy in Prague on August 22, 1968, a day after Warsaw Pact armies occupied Czechoslovakia to crush a reformist movement led by Alexander Dubcek. The Soviet army stayed in Czechoslovakia until 1991. A date for a court hearing has yet to be set and both former hard-line communist leaders face up to 15- year sentences if convicted.

Weather

Thursday should be partly cloudy with some bright spells and snow showers in places with temperatures ranging from minus one to minus five degrees Celsius.