News of Radio Prague
Czech Foreign Minister under fire following Moscow allegations
Several Czech MP's have called on the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan to appear before parliament to explain the renting of a Czech-owned building in Moscow. The call comes after the publication of an article in the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, which alleged that Mr Kavan approved the rental of a Czech government-owned complex in Moscow to a company under conditions that did not favour the Czech Republic. The paper claimed the deal was highly suspicious, alleging that the company, Hotel Cesky Dùm, used the Czech embassy's bank account, did not pay taxes to the Russian authorities and enjoyed several diplomatic advantages. Mr. Kavan initially noted, that he had not personally benefited from the transaction and that it had not disadvantaged the Czech Republic in any way. He admitted at a press conference that there were a few disputable points in the contract and he would look into the matter to see who was responsible.
Czechs forced to work in Soviet work camps to receive compensation
The government has approved a law proposed by the Lower House of Parliament which would compensate Czech citizens who were sent to Soviet labour camps during and after WWII. The law would affect between 300 and 400 people, who are to be given 12,000 Czech crowns, or a little over 300 U.S. dollars, for every month that they were forced to spend in the camps. All relatives of WWII forced labourers who have already passed away are to be given a lump sum of 120,000 Czech crowns, a little over 3,000 U.S. dollars.
Confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth in Netherlands lead to extension of Czech security measures
The strict security measures on the Czech Republic's borders with Poland, Germany and Austria to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease may be extended beyond the planned end date of March 27th. The Czech State Veterinary Authority said the extension may come in reaction to newly confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth in the Netherlands. So far no cases of the livestock disease have been discovered in the Czech Republic.
Former wartime forced labourers to meet German representatives on April 4th
German government and industry representatives are to meet representatives of WWII slave labourers in Berlin on April 4th to discuss compensation payments. The compensation process was brought to a halt when a New York Court refused to dismiss lawsuits filed against German companies by slave labourers. The German companies had agreed to pay 2.5 billion German marks in compensation to wartime slave labourers, but only on condition that all pending lawsuits were dropped.
Puhringer loses trust in Czech Office for Nuclear Safety
The Governor of the Upper Austria region, Josef Puhringer, has said he has lost all trust in the head of the Czech Office for Nuclear Safety, Dana Drabova. He said after posing questions on the safety of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant, Mrs. Drabova sent him a written confirmation in which she had agreed to hold open talks with not only experts on nuclear power but also with anti-nuclear activists and the media. However, as Mr. Puhringer noted, although he had even appointed a co-ordinator upon Mrs. Drabova's request, there has been no sign of the promised communication, which should have begun in March.
Czech border police tighten controls for foreigners
As of Tuesday, all foreigners living in the Czech Republic on extended visas who want to travel outside the country without their children will be subjected to stricter controls at the border. A Czech law passed in January last year states that all foreigners who are legal guardians of children under the age of 15 years and intend to travel abroad without them must show a number of documents. The documents must include written confirmation that a person above the age of 18 years has promised to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care during the foreigner's absence.
President Havel discusses anti-Cuban resolution with Czech deputy Foreign Minister
President, Vaclav Havel met the Czech Deputy Foreign Minister, Martin Palous, on Wednesday, for talks on a planned resolution condemning human rights abuses in Cuba. The Czech Republic plans to submit the resolution to a forthcoming UN human rights convention in Geneva, but the wording of the resolution has come under fire. The resolution describes U.S.-led economic sanctions as 'counter-productive', words which have been sharply criticised by the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. President Havel, however, said on Wednesday that his country needed to do everything possible to make its diplomatic initiative successful and win the widest support from democratic countries.
Prime Minister Zeman criticises planned 'Pink Tank' venue
A plan to place a Soviet tank, painted pink by Czech artist David Cerny, in one of Prague's town squares has been strongly opposed by the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman. The wrecked tank, similar to one daubed pink by Mr Cerny in the early 1990s, was to be placed on Kinsky square in the Prague 5 district. Mr. Cerny is one of the Czech Republic's most famous and most controversial artists, and his plan has not only received opposition from the Prime Minister, but also from the Russian Embassy and several citizens of Prague 5.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. It looks like we will not be getting rid of the rain for a while as Thursday shall be overcast with scattered showers with day-time temperatures forecast at 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. Tonight is expected to remain cloudy with occasional rain, temperatures shall range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius. Friday shall be a little warmer with a maximum of 10 degrees in the West and 6 degrees Celsius in the East.