News of Radio Prague

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Pre-payment for WWII forced labourers

Leading members of all the main Czech political parties have expressed support for a cabinet proposal to send compensation pre-payments to Czechs forced to work as slave labourers in Nazi Germany during WWII. The proposal will put to the vote during the next parliamentary session Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told journalists that the cabinet would consider making a pre-payment worth 2,000 German Marks - around 36 thousand Czech crowns - to some former forced labourers. The money will go to all those who will be aged over 80 prior to the date when Germany and Austria are due to send the full amount. Some MPs say the former forced labourers should receive a larger amount.

Former high-ranking communist under investigation

Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures has called for a criminal investigation to be relaunched into the past activities of Lubomir Strougal, a former prime minister and interior minister during the Communist regime. Mr Bures made his statement after an investigation into Strougal's alleged activities to arm the so-called 'People's Militias' was suspended. Minister Bures said the case should never have been dropped, as not all the evidence had been properly examined. The case is to be sent to the Supreme Court.

Czech and Finns swap hockey championships

The Czechs and Finns have agreed to swap hosting the ice hockey world championships, as the Czechs need more time for preparations. The Czech Republic has been due to host the championships in 2003, but officials say that facilities for the tournament will not be completed by then. According to the agreement, the Czechs will instead host the games in 2004. The arrangement has still to be approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation. The federation has warned the Czech Republic more than once that it could lose the right to host the championships in 2003 if a new arena was not completed in time.

Vyborny: I won't run for Christian Democrat leader

After almost two weeks of speculation, Christian Democrat MP Miloslav Vyborny has announced that he will not run for the post of party chairman. Mr Vyborny was asked by the current party leader, Jan Kasal, to run ten days ago. Mr Vyborny said there were several reasons he could not run, the main one being that he had made a public promise not to run for high office until 2002. Almost immediately after Mr Vyborny's announcement, Jan Kasal announced his intention to run for re-election as party leader.

Government satisfied with its own performance

The Czech government has approved a report evaluating its own performance over the past year. In the report, Cabinet ministers praise their own achievements in reforming the legal system and bringing it in line with EU legislation. They also claim further successes in decentralising state administration, reducing crime, and increased economic growth. After the release of the report, government spokesman Libor Roucek criticised parliament, saying it sometimes blocked the introduction of new laws to bring Czech legislation in line with that of the EU.

Two men receive sentences for brutal burglary

Two men have received prison sentences of twelve and ten years for a brutal burglary, in which they allegedly beat to death a sixty-eight-year-old man for a sum of roughly six hundred Czech crowns, or less than twenty dollars. The two men apparently agreed in advance to burgle the pensioner's apartment, and after committing the robbery, they then apparently kicked him to death.

Bavaria against Czech electricity

Politicians in the German state of Bavaria, which borders on the Czech Republic, plan to express strong opposition to electricity imports from the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in Southern Bohemia. The General secretary of the ruling Bavarian Christian-Social Union, Thomas Goppel, has called on the German energy utility EON to re-assess electricity imports from the Czech Republic. He said EON would have to decide if the 1.5 percent of Czech electricity exported to Germany was worth a backlash from the German people. Unlike Austria, Bavaria has no serious objections to nuclear energy as such, but it points to shortcomings and defects that have occurred in Temelin.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Friday should see partially cloudy skies, with fog in low lying areas in the morning. Temperatures should rise to a daytime high of 22 degrees Celsius. Temperatures during the night on Thursday should drop to a minimum of four degrees Celsius.