News of Radio Prague

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Snow situation improving, temperature records broken

The heavy snowfalls which hit the Czech Republic over the last few days and blocked many roads have eased off. However, driving in many areas of the country is still difficult as extremely low temperatures have led to ice. Several meteorological stations in the Czech Republic saw record low temperatures on Friday. Records were broken in Prague, Brno and Ostrava. The lowest temperature - minus 29.4 Celsius - was recorded in the Zlin region.

Cold cracks rail tracks, freezes goods

And the extremely low temperatures have been causing problems on the Czech rail system - the cold has cracked the tracks in several parts of the country. The cargoes of many goods trains also froze, a spokesperson for Czech Railways said.

Social Democrats to field candidate to succeed President Havel

The ruling Social Democrats are planning to field their own candidate to succeed President Vaclav Havel, the party's leader Vladimir Spidla said on Friday. Mr. Havel's second term as president of the Czech Republic comes to an end at the beginning of 2003. Mr. Spidla said that the Social Democrat's candidate would not necessarily have to be a member of the party.

Signatories of Charter 77 to mark anniversary at the Senate

Some of the people who signed the Charter 77 human rights declaration are to meet at the Senate at the end of January to mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of the document. Perhaps the most famous signatory of Charter 77 - President Vaclav Havel - is expected to attend. Charter 77 called on the Communist regime to observe the Helsinki human rights agreements, which Czechoslovakia signed in 1975. Many who signed were persecuted for doing so by the Communist authorities.

Chateau destroyed by fire

A chateau in Mladejov, near the east Bohemian town of Jicin, was gutted by fire on Thursday. Firemen believe the fire was caused by a fault in the chimney. The chateau was built in 1769. The cold weather hampered the efforts of firefighters to bring the blaze under control - their equipment and water froze.

CEZ and Skoda Praha in dispute

CEZ, the company which operates the Temelin nuclear power plant, is threatening to sue the company Skoda Praha for 600 million crowns over delays in putting the plant into operation. CEZ says Skoda Praha were late in delivering equipment. Skoda Praha deny responsibility, blaming sub-contractors. The company says if an agreement cannot be reached with CEZ they are prepared to go to court over the matter.

Boy tries to fake his own kidnapping to get money from father

A 16-year-old boy in the east Bohemian town of Pardubice tried to fake his own kidnapping in order to extract money from his father, a police spokesperson said. He and a 14-year-old accomplice called the boy's father and said if he did not hand over 6,000 crowns - around 170 US dollars - he would never see his son again. No charges are being brought against the youngsters.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather forecast for the Czech Republic this weekend. Saturday should be cloudy with clear spells with temperatures between minus eight and minus four degrees Celsius. Sunday's weather is expected to be similar with temperatures between minus six and minus two Celsius.