News of Radio Prague

New Finance Minister takes office

The newly appointed Czech Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok is due to take office on Tuesday. Mr. Rusnok, who formerly served as deputy social minister, replaces Pavel Mertlik who unexpectedly resigned a week ago on the grounds that he had too little influence on government decisions. During his appointment ceremony on Friday, the new Finance Minister said that public finances would be his top priority. The growing deficit in public finances has come under heavy criticism from the opposition.

Arms shipment from the Czech Republic arrives in Sri Lanka

A ship carrying an arms shipment worth more than 2.5 million US dollars from the Czech Republic arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday despite indications that peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels are imminent. A military spokesman for the government, who confirmed the news , said that the timing of the shipment which includes tanks, tank transporters and other military vehicles, had nothing to do with developments in a Norwegian brokered peace initiative between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels. He said the cargo of arms was part of a consignment ordered late last year. Czech companies are key suppliers of military hardware to Sri Lanka and the Czech Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy visited the island in February to pledge more assistance.

Temporary shelter for Chechens

The Czech government is to discuss a measure which would give Chechen refugees temporary shelter in the Czech Republic. The proposal has come from the government's human rights commissioner Jan Jarab who is dissatisfied with the present arrangement which does not distinguish between Chechen refugees who need shelter for a given period and Chechen asylum seekers who have been politically persecuted. In order to protect Chechens from possible deportation the authorities have temporarily stopped processing all asylum applications from Chechen nationals. The proposed "temporary shelter" status is not new. It was introduced for over 5,000 refugees from Bosna and Herzegovina and later made to apply for over 1,000 refugees from Kosovo.

Czech dies in Tatra Mountains

A 27 year old Czech mountain climber is reported to have died in an avalanche in the Slovak Tatra Mountains over the weekend. His companion, who was likewise trapped under piles of snow, was rescued in time, thanks to a group of skiers who alerted the mountain patrol. Frequent avalanches in the Tatra mountains have caused seven deaths since the beginning of this year but rescuers complain that many tourists fail to take repeated warnings seriously. There is now a heightened danger of avalanches in the region since there are layers of frozen ice under newly fallen snow.

And finally a quick look at the weather

Tuesday will be another cold and rainy day with temp between 6 and 10 degs C and snow in the higher altitudes. Forget about the date on your calendar and dress warmly because it will be some time yet before spring shows its true face – Wednesday and Thursday will bring no relief – more overcast skies, sleet or snow showers and night temps around O. Day temps are expected to drop to between 3 and 7 degs.