News of Radio Prague

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Bill on Gripen fighter jet loan passes first reading

The Czech Lower House has passed a government bill in a first reading, which the government hopes will regulate a financial loan needed by the Czech Air Force to acquire 24 new Gripen fighter jets. However, the Lower House did return the proposal to government for further refinement. During the first reading the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats and Freedom Union tried to block the bill entirely, but lacked ten necessary votes. The Czech Social Democrat government is aiming to buy the disputed fighter jets for an amount of 76.9 billion crowns.

Temelin will run for five days before being shut down for three weeks

The Temelin nuclear power plant is set to restart Thursday after a week's shutdown, induced by a technical fault in the non-nuclear area of the plant's circulation system. Temelin will then operate for five days before once again being shut down for three weeks, as technicians wait for the arrival of new technical equipment to replace the faulty parts in the circulation system.

Army signs protocol governing role of special units in event of radiation leak

The leader of the Czech Army's ground forces Vladimir Sova has signed an agreement with local mayors and heads of fire rescue teams in southern Bohemia and Moravia, governing the procedure of army rescue units in the event of a nuclear accident at either of the Czech Republic's two nuclear power plants, Temelin and Dukovany. In the event of an accident leading to a radiation leak at either of the plants, all five of the army's rescue and training bases would be engaged to minimalise damage, and set-up de-radiation zones. While army leader Vladimir Sova said that the chances of such an accident was extremely unlikely, he stressed the importance of being prepared for even such a possibility.

Cibrian warns that the Czech Republic must increase number of quality bureaucrats

The EU's ambassador to the Czech Republic Ramiro Cibrian has warned that the country must increase its number of quality workers in the state bureaucracy if it is to take full advantage of EU funding in 2004. That is the year the Czech Republic is expected to join the European Union. Mr Cibrian said on Thursday that the influx of EU funding in 2004 could be as much as five times higher than current financial funding under the Phare and ISPA programmes. The raise in funds will require a greater number of qualified Czech bureaucrats to process the amounts. Meanwhile, a final figure for EU financial support, for the first three years after the Czech Republic's entry, has not yet been reached. The number must not exceed five percent of the country's GNP, which last year amounted to 2.1 billion crowns.

Pirate CDs destroyed

More than 300, 000 pirate-copy CDs and 11,000 pirate video cassettes worth at least 90 million crowns in both value and lost profits for authorship rights, were destroyed in a Prague incinerator on Thursday, in an attempt to take a bite out of pirate recording sales in the Czech Republic. The Czech branch of the IFPI, the International Federation of the Recording Industry, claims that every second music CD in the country is a pirate copy, and adds that the majority of illegal CDs and videos steal mainstream music, American films, and even pornography. The organisation says that most illegally copied merchandise found in the Czech Republic is produced in, and smuggled from, Poland and the Ukraine.

Case of two ambulance workers charged with thieving to get underway

The trial of two members of an ambulance rescue team, charged with several cases of theft, is set to get underway. The two members are accused of having robbed patients they transferred to hospital, in one case taking jewellery and funds worth 190, 000 crowns from a patient who lay unconscious. The head of Prague's ambulance service said on Thursday that both of the accused had been released from their jobs, adding that he believed the case of robberies was unique. He added that any patients suspecting they might have been robbed by the duo contact the police.

Czech truck crashes in Hungary, killing 1

A Czech truck driver is being investigated by Hungarian police, for his role and possible fault in a head-on collision, which killed another driver in an automobile. Hungarian police speculate that the Czech truck driver, who was transporting aluminium powder, fell asleep behind the wheel. A Hungarian court has allowed the Czech suspect to be released on bail.

Industrial production up 6.8 percent

The Czech Statistics office has released information that shows that Czech industrial production went up 6.8 percent in 2001, with production hitting an increase of 7 percent during last December alone.

French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet to visit 12th annual Writer's Festival

French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, the proponent of the subjectivist noveau roman will attend this year's Prague Writer's Festival, held at the end of April. Mr Robbe-Grillet, who is now eighty, is known not only for his novels, but also for his famous collaboration with Alain Resnais on the much-studied film classic Last Year at Marienbad.

And the Stuffed Lion award goes to...

Finally, with the Czech Lion film awards fast approaching the winner of the Stuffed Lion (Worst Czech film of the Year) has been announced: this year the dubious honour goes to director Jaroslav Soukup for Jak Ukrast Dagmaru, a James Bond spoof starring Czech comic actor Jaroslav Sypal. The award was presented Thursday to the film's producer by Czech film critic Mirka Spacilova.

Weather

Thursday evening will be cloudy with a possibility of rain showers. Night-time temperatures will hover between 3 and -1 degrees Celsius.