News of Radio Prague

Lower house rejects non-means tested child benefit

The lower house has rejected a government-sponsored bill proposing child benefit for all families, regardless of income. The bill, proposing uniform, non-means tested benefit for all families, was returned to the lower house after being rejected by the Senate. It was approved in the first reading only thanks to the absence of several right-wing deputies.

Havel: Czechs will not lose identity in EU

President Vaclav Havel has said Czech citizens will not lose their identity after the Czech Republic joins the European Union. Speaking during a visit to fellow EU candidate Malta, the Czech president said he was convinced that nations would maintain their identity within a strong European Union. Mr Havel has decided to stay in Malta for an extra 10 days as a guest of his Maltese counterpart Guido de Marco. The president decided to prolong his stay because doctors said the climate would be good for his health. Mr Havel suffers from chronic bronchitis, and underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1996.

Verheugen heads for Prague to ease tensions

The European Union's enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen arrives in Prague on Thursday in a bid to ease tension caused by the dispute over the post-war Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's large ethnic German community after the Second World War. Most of the expelled Germans took up residence in Austria or Bavaria, and there has been a bitter dispute in recent months over the issue of compensation. Mr Verheugen has already said the decrees will not affect the Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union, an assurance repeated by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a visit to Prague on Monday.

Lorry driver killed in collision with express train

A lorry driver was killed on Tuesday after his vehicle was struck by an express train at an unmanned crossing near the city of Olomouc. The train was heading to Prague from Kosice in eastern Slovakia. Police said the driver failed to respect signals at the crossing. The engine and one carriage were derailed in the accident, and trains on the line have been re-routed. The driver of the train suffered light injuries; Czech Railways says no passengers were hurt.

Head of Czechoslovak Hussite Church supports Israeli military campaign

The head of the country's second largest Protestant church has expressed his full support for Israel's military campaign in the Palestinian territories. Jan Schwarz, head of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, said in a letter to the Israeli ambassador to Prague that Israel's military campaign was essential in order to destroy terrorism and violence. The Czechoslovak Hussite Church has around 180,000 members.

MPs pass election law amendment to avoid time zone problem

The lower house of parliament has passed an amendment to the election law to overcome problems with Czech citizens voting abroad. The law was recently changed, giving Czechs living abroad the right to vote for the very first time, but only recently did officials realise that the difference in time zones could complicate June's general elections. Polls in the Czech Republic will close at 2 p.m. local time, but the polling booth at the Czech consulate in Los Angeles, for example, would not close for another nine hours. Election results cannot be published until all polling booths have closed. Under the amendment, Czechs living in time zones more than four hours behind the Czech Republic will be able to cast their vote a day earlier. The amendment must now be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.

Crown reaches new high against euro

The crown recorded an all-time record against the euro on Tuesday, reaching 30.15 crowns to the euro before closing the day's trading on 30.18. The Czech National Bank says it may be forced to intervene to stabilise the Czech currency.

Police arrest disco shooting suspect

Police in North Bohemia have arrested the first of three men accused of shooting dead two security guards outside a disco in the town of Litvinov last week. A police spokeswoman said twenty-eight-year-old Jiri Donat had been remanded in custody after being charged with murder. The shootings occurred on April 1st, outside Litvinov's Calypso Club.


Finally a look at the weather. Wednesday will be cloudy throughout most of the country, with the chance of showers in places. Temperatures in the daytime will peak at 12 degrees Celsius.