News of Radio Prague

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Temelin repairs complete

The Temelin nuclear power plant is back on line, after being disconnected from the Czech Republic's electricity grid on Friday. The plant went off line after the discovery of an oil leak, just hours after it had received permission to go back on-line. Temelin has suffered a series of setbacks since commencing test operations last year. The plant is fiercely opposed by Austrian environmentalists, who say its mixture of Soviet design and American technology is dangerous. The plant's operators, the state-owned energy utility CEZ, say Temelin is safe, and that such problems are normal during test operations at a nuclear power plant. This latest shutdown has brought further calls from Austrian environmentalists for Temelin to be shut down altogether. Temelin has now been reconnected to the electricity grid as part of further test operations, and is at thirty percent of its maximum output.

Schroeder: broad support for labour restrictions

At an EU summit in Stockholm, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has claimed broad support for his proposal to impose temporary restrictions on the free movement of labour from candidate countries, including the Czech Republic, after EU enlargement. The Czech Republic and other candidate countries have called for full freedom of movement for their workers after they join the Union, but there are widespread concerns in some EU member states, in particular Germany and Austria, which share borders with some of the former Communist candidate countries, that enlargement will bring an influx of cheap labour into their workforces. Chancellor Schroeder has proposed a seven-year transition period after enlargement before relaxing restrictions on the free movement of labour, and told journalists in Stockholm that his proposal is becoming generally accepted.

Sudeten Germans call for support from German government

Leading representatives of the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII, have called on the German government to back their cause after EU enlargement. In a declaration issued on Sunday, they state that the European Parliament has called for the annulment of the Benes Decrees, which led to the mass expulsion of up to three million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia, and that the Austrian government is active in representing its Sudeten German community. They further request that the German government provide them with the same support.

Czechs defeat Northern Ireland in World Cup qualifier

Sport now, and the Czech national football team defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying match on Saturday. The only goal of the match was scored by the team's captain, striker Pavel Nedved, after twelve minutes of play. The Czechs now lead their qualifying group, two points clear of second placed Denmark.

Lawyer asks for acquittal of former SS guard

The defence lawyer of a former SS officer on trial for shooting seven Jewish prisoners dead in the Terezin concentration camp during World War Two has told a court in Ravensburg that his client should be acquitted. In what has been dubbed by the German media as the "last Nazi war crimes trial", defence lawyer Ingo Pfliegner says that his eighty-four-year-old client, former SS officer Julius Viel, was not guilty of shooting the seven prisoners dead, as he claims he was llegedly stationed in Vienna in 1945, when the incident took place. Public prosecutors have demanded a life sentence for the alleged murders.

Anti-corruption service to investigate Moscow property deal

The Czech Republic's anti-corruption service is to investigate irregularities in the way in which a building was procured in Moscow for the Czech government. A spokesman for Czech police headquarters announced on Friday that a team from the anti-corruption squad is to examine all the paperwork surrounding the case to find out if corruption was involved. Allegations have surfaced that the building was obtained for the Czech government by a Russian company under dubious circumstances, and the Czech Foreign Ministry, which arranged the deal, has come under increasing pressure this week to provide more details on the case.

Court proceedings against two journalists halted

Court proceedings have been halted against two journalists who have refused to divulge their sources in a high profile political scandal. Prague's chief prosecutor announced on Thursday that two journalists from the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, who reported on an alleged political campaign against one of the country's most popular politicians, Social Democrat MP, Petra Buzkova, could not be put on trial, as protecting sources is not a criminal act. The alleged campaign against Petra Buzkova, which was meant to discredit her with allegations of collaborating with the Communist secret police, being an alcoholic and abusing her daughter, was, according to the journalists, created by one of Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman's advisors.

Czechs announce 3.1 GDP growth in 2000

The Czech Republic's gross domestic product grew 3.1 per cent in 2000, surpassing most experts' predictions. Figures released by the National Statistics Office went well beyond the 2.8 per cent rate predicted by economic analysts, who said last year's growth had mainly been fuelled by strong foreign investment. The Social Democrat government has made attracting foreign investment a priority of its economic policy, and have announced several high-profile successes in recent months.

Court orders investigators to provide more proof over Project Asanace

A district court in Prague has ordered investigators to provided more proof in a case against five former high ranking members of the Interior Ministry in Communist Czechoslovakia, including former minister Jaromir Obzina. The five men are currently the subject of an investigation in connection with a campaign against dissidents, called Project Asanace. The main aim of the project was apparently to force dissidents who opposed the Communist regime to leave the country. The court stated that investigators have failed to provide the required proof, and that investigators have to come up with sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

World Bank recommends increase in Czech retirement age

In a fresh report on the state budget in the Czech Republic, the World Bank has recommended that the Czech age of retirement should be increased to fight the increasing burden of the pension system on public finances. According to the report, the pension system already account for one percent of Gross Domestic Product in the Czech Republic, and this should increase to three percent by 2020. The World Bank also recommends that people should contribute to pension insurance programmes for forty years instead of the current level of twenty five in order to become eligible for a state pension.