News of Radio Prague

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Zeman meets opposition in Belarus as Lukashenko refuses meeting

The president of Belarus, Alexandr Lukashenko, has refused to meet Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who is on a two-day visit to the country, the Reuters news agency said on Thursday. Mr Zeman held talks with opposition leaders and emphasised that he was not visiting Minsk as Czech prime minister, but as chairman of the Socialist International committee for peace, democracy and human rights. Mr Lukashenko has frequently been accused of human rights abuses. Mr Zeman is visiting Minsk on his way home from an official visit to Russia.

Czech companies win $300 million worth of contracts in Russia

One reason for Mr Zeman's trip to Moscow was to help Czech businesses to find contracts in Russia. The Trade and Industry Ministry said on Thursday that Czech companies were preparing projects in Russia worth over 11 billion Czech crowns, or 330 million US dollars.

Leave political debate on army reform until after elections, says Tvrdik

Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has called for political debate on the reform of the Czech Army to be put aside until after June's general elections. The cabinet is to discuss an army reform programme prepared by Mr Tvrdik at a meeting on April 29, which President Vaclav Havel is also expected to attend. The central plank of the reform programme is the professionalisation of the Czech Army, which should be completed by 2006.

Senate allows for Czechs living in United States to vote one day earlier

The Senate has passed an amendment to the election law allowing Czechs living in the United States to vote in June's elections a day earlier than voters in the Czech Republic. The amendment overcomes the delay which would have been caused by the time difference between the two countries, and means election results can be released at 2 in the afternoon on July 15.

Great post office robbery trial ends in not guilty verdict

Three men accused of the biggest post office robbery in the country's history have been found not guilty by Prague City Court. Three armed men stole a record 28.5 million crowns from the post office in the Prague district of Dejvice in November 1997.

Novak goes out in third round of Monte Carlo Masters

The Czech tennis player Jiri Novak has been knocked out in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters tournament. Novak was beaten 1:6 6:7 by Sebastien Grosjean of France.

Fire causes severe disruptions at Czech Radio

A small fire in Czech Radio's computer centre early on Thursday morning caused severe disruptions here at the Czech national broadcaster. The fire was evidently caused by a technical fault and knocked out the station's audio system and access to news wires. Repairs are expected to be completed in two days.

Weather

Friday should be cloudy, with occasional showers in places. Temperatures will range from 10 to fifteen degrees Celsius.