News of Radio Prague

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Austrian Environment Minister explains lack of presence at Temelin hearing

Austria's Environment Minister has explained why Austrian representatives failed to attend a public hearing into the Temelin nuclear power plant on Wednesday, saying the hearing was not in line with the environmental assessment process agreed between Prague and Vienna. Wilhelm Molterer said Wednesday's hearing, in the South Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice, had taken place despite growing alarm in Austria over technical problems during testing at the plant. Mr Molterer said the testing phase should be halted due to persistent problems with a turbine. On Tuesday Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said his government did not consider the environmental impact study on Temelin, agreed between Prague and Vienna last year, a sufficient guarantee of safety. An unnamed source at the Czech Foreign Ministry told the Czech News Agency that Prague was preparing a sharply-worded response to Austria's criticism of the environmental impact study.

Anti-Temelin activists to hold major protest on Friday

A spokesman for Austria's anti-nuclear committee has said a major demonstration is being planned for this Friday at the Wullowitz border crossing between Austria and the Czech Republic. The demonstration will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but will also highlight problems involving Temelin. Politicians and well-known personalities from the arts world are expected to address the rally and the organisers say that they cannot rule out "spontaneous blockades" of the border. A series of border blockades over Temelin earlier this year led to strained relations between Prague and Vienna, with the Czech side claiming the Austrian authorities were not doing enough to stop them.

Observers ask whether new tabloid will really be Super

The Czech Republic was introduced to a new tabloid newspaper on Wednesday. Called Super, it goes head to head with the country's leading tabloid Blesk. Super hit newsstands across the country with a front-page story called "Austria has its own Temelin," a piece with political overtones about the Triga II nuclear research reactor in Vienna. Super's publisher, e-Media, planned an initial press run of 300,000. The country's leading newspaper, Mlada Fronta Dnes, enjoys circulation of about 360,000 copies a day. The German news agency DPA said on Wednesday there were questions surrounding e-Media's owners' political ties, adding that the owners could try to use the paper to influence voters before the Czech Republic's next elections, scheduled for spring 2002.

Government, CSOB auditors at odds over value of IPB

Reports in the media say plans to sell the failed IPB bank may be jeopardised by a huge gap between what the Czech government and the potential buyer think the bank is worth. Czech newspapers and the CTK news agency reported on Wednesday that government auditors claimed IPB had a positive net worth, but that auditors for CSOB, which had promised to buy the bank by June this year, said the net value was negative. The difference between the two auditors' figures exceeds 100 billion Czech crowns, or just over two and half billion U.S. dollars. IPB was the country's second-largest bank, before huge debts and questionable financial practices forced a government take-over last summer. Just days after the take-over, the government handed control of the bank to CSOB, which is owned by Belgium's KBC group, under condition that CSOB buy IPB by June this year.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Thursday will see an occluded front continue eastwards over the Czech Republic, bringing with it clouds and rainy periods in most parts of the country. Temperatures in the daytime will reach 16 degrees Celsius. Friday will be brighter, with the chance of showers in places.