News of Radio Prague

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Russia backs Prague over Benes decrees

The Russian president Vladimir Putin has said his country supports the Czech Republic in its dispute over the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's large ethnic German community. In a statement released after meeting the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman in Moscow, Mr Putin said attempts by German expellee groups to revise the outcome of the Second World War were "far removed from reality." Two and a half million ethnic Germans, known as Sudeten Germans, were expelled from the country after 1945 under the so-called Benes decrees. Expellee groups are calling for compensation, and some have sought to link the issue to the Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union.

Cabinet approves pre-school classes for Roma children

The cabinet has approved the setting up of special pre-school classes for Roma children in a bid to eradicate the large gap between them and other pupils. Under the Education Ministry proposal nurseries and primary schools with large numbers of Roma children will provide pre-school classes. Critics say Roma children are at an automatic disadvantage when they enter the Czech school system, because of language, cultural and social differences. Many end up in special schools for the mentally handicapped. The cabinet also approved the establishment of special educational facilities for children of asylum seekers.

Cabinet approves anti-corruption "agent provocateurs"

The cabinet also approved the use of "agent provocateurs" to uncover official corruption. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has proposed that officials working undercover will offer bribes to police officers and other civil servants in a bid to crack down on corruption. Mr Gross recently admitted in an official report that corruption was on the increase in the Czech Republic and said the measures used to combat the problem were insufficient.

Forensic expert: hotel collapse caused by boiler explosion

A police forensic expert has confirmed that the collapse of a hotel in the town of Louny was caused by an explosion in one of the hotel's electric boilers. Six Polish citizens - five of whom were members of a single family - were killed when several storeys of the hotel collapsed on April 1. The forensic study confirmed the explosion was caused by faulty assembly and maintenance of the boiler, one of three in the building.

Private hospital to begin "de-vitalisation" treatment May 15

The director of a private hospital in the northern town of Vrchlabi has confirmed that controversial cancer treatment will begin there on May 15th. The treatment, known as "de-vitalisation", involves tying knots around cancerous tumours, rather than surgically removing them. Health Minister Bohumil Fiser allowed the first clinical trials of de-vitalisation last year, but refused to register the treatment after what he described as "inconclusive" results. The Czech Medical Chamber also says it doesn't believe the treatment works. The hospital's director, however, has defended the patient's right to choose, and says cancer patients from throughout the country have been contacting the hospital.

Unemployed Ukrainian worker commits suicide using circular saw

An unemployed Ukrainian worker committed suicide on Wednesday by putting his head into the spinning blade of a circular saw. The man killed himself in front of employees at a woodworking company after being told there was no work for him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Workers who witnessed the grisly death were treated for shock. The Czech Republic attracts tens of thousands of migrant workers from Ukraine each year.

Prisoner dies after third hunger strike to protest innocence

A 36-year-old inmate at Prague's Pankrac prison died on Monday after staging his third hunger strike in three years to protest his innocence. The man, identified only as Pavel M, had refused food since January 29, and more recently refused liquids and medical treatment. The man had completed half of a four-and-a-half sentence for extortion and other crimes, but repeatedly told a prison psychologist that he was innocent and wanted a presidential pardon.

Weather

Finally a look at the weather. Thursday will be another partially cloudy day, with showers in some parts of the country. Temperatures in the daytime will peak at 15 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of two degrees.