News of Radio Prague

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Austrian Chancellor criticises Temelin

The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel is reported to be unhappy with a report presented by the Czech authorities to Austria last week on the environmental impact of the Temelin nuclear power plant. The Austrian news agency APA states that, in an interview for the Austrian paper, Volksblatt, Mr Schussel describes the Czech report as inadequate. According to APA the Austrian government has sent a diplomatic note to Prague, asking for more detailed documentation.

Young people taking more drugs

The newly published results of research conducted last year into drug abuse among teenagers, suggest that nearly half of the Czech population between fourteen and nineteen has had experience with drugs. This represents an increase of over six percent since similar research four years ago. An interior ministry spokeswoman said there was particular concern that drug abuse seemed to be more prevalent among girls than boys. However the research suggests that the percentage of teenagers with experience of hard drugs such as heroin and opiates remains at under half a percent.

Ministry defends exports to Sri Lanka

The Czech defence ministry has defended a number of recent contracts to export arms to Sri Lanka. A ministry spokeswoman said that the exports, including tanks and rocket launchers, were fully in line with the Czech Republic's foreign policy interests. The contracts attracted media attention because they occurred just as sensitive peace talks on the island were under way. The chairman of the Czech parliament's defence committee, opposition Civic Democratic MP Petr Necas, said it would be regrettable if Czech arms were to contribute to an escalation in Sri Lanka's long running ethnic conflict.

Opinion Poll

Two separate opinion polls have been published suggesting that the opposition coalition of four right-of-centre parties remains the most popular political force in the country, despite recent disputes between the coalition partners. However the two polls, conducted by Sofres-Factum and the Centre for Empirical Research, do point to a fall in the coalition's popularity. They both put the opposition Civic Democrats in second place, but closely followed by the ruling Social Democrats, whose popularity appears to have risen since they elected a new party leader.

National Property Fund has new head

The governing board of the National Property Fund, which supervises and manages the privatization of former state property, has accepted the resignation of the fund's chairman Jiri Havel. Mr Havel handed in his resignation last week along with the Czech finance minister, Pavel Mertlik, with whom he had worked closely. The board has appointed Mr Havel's deputy Zdenka Nemcova, to fill the gap until a new chairman is chosen.

Hope for troubled tractor manufacturer

Hope could be on the way for the troubled Czech tractor manufacturer Zetor. The chairman of the company's supervisory board, Alice Undusova, said that by Friday's deadline, six different firms had expressed an interest in buying the company, more than had originally been expected. However, she declined to name the firms concerned. Zetor's production line stood idle for nineteen months until last October, and the firm has faced spiralling debts. The introduction of a strategic investor has been seen as the only way of avoiding bankruptcy.

Police officer charged with assault

A twenty-seven-year-old police officer from the eastern city of Ostrava has been charged with assault, following an incident involving a man he suspected of stealing a car radio. The attack is alleged to have occurred during a police interrogation, after which the man is said to have required urgent first aid. The officer, who remains on duty, proclaims his innocence, saying that the charges were a classic case of a criminal trying to get his revenge on the police.

Ruling Social Democrats opposed to tuition fees

The deputy head of the ruling Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, has said that the party remains fully committed to free education and is strongly opposed to the introduction of tuition fees for students. He said that paying for education would be socially divisive and would not improve the financial situation of Czech schools and colleges. Right-of-centre opposition parties have for some time been campaigning for the introduction of tuition fees at universities, claiming it is the only way for them to modernize.

Czech teachers go to Britain to learn about Holocaust

A group of twenty Czech schoolteachers have begun a week-long seminar in Britain. Along with teachers from other former communist countries they are learning about recent developments in teaching children about the horrors of the World War Two Holocaust of Jews and Romanies. Under the communist regime the subject was virtually ignored in Czech primary and secondary schools, in particular the mass murder of Central Europe's Romany minority. The British Embassy in Prague said that myths and prejudices against Romanies would be a prime focus of the seminar.

Theatre awards

The winners of the Czech Republic's prestigious Alfred Radok theatrical awards have been announced, and by coincidence one of the top awards, that of best director, was won by David Radok, the son of the famous director after whom the awards are named. Critics chose Radok's production of the Shostakovich opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk as the best production of the last twelve months. The Dramatic Studio in the northern town of Usti nad Labem was named as best theatre.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, a glance at the weather. Saturday will be overcast with showers and afternoon highs ranging from 5 to 9 degrees Celsius. Sunday will see further showers, although it may be a little warmer.