News of Radio Prague

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Police break up suspected drugs gang

Police in the Czech Republic's three major cities say they have broken up a large gang smuggling the drug ecstasy from the Netherlands. Police say they raided houses in Prague, Brno and Ostrava last week, seizing 70,000 ecstasy tablets and arresting 15 people. Dutch police carried out simultaneous raids on a drug laboratory in the Netherlands, arresting several people.

Asylum seekers: officials too slow in processing applications

The Czech Interior Ministry has been accused of taking too long to process applications from asylum seekers. The law says the ministry has 90 days to come to a decision on an application. There have been numerous cases, however, where asylum seekers have had to wait in refugee centres for over a year before being told whether or not they have been granted asylum. Some 20 refugees, including six Afghan women who have been waiting for two years, have lodged complaints with the Czech Ombudsman's office. Officials processing applications claim that the delay is due to the rapidly increasing number of asylum seekers. In 2000, the number of asylum seekers totalled 8,000, last year that number increased to 18,000.

Schuessel: EU membership in 2004 realistic

The Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel said on Monday that EU entry for the Czech Republic and other candidate countries in 2004 is an ambitious but realistic goal. Speaking at a conference in Vienna, Mr Schuessel was reacting to scepticism in his country and elsewhere towards the Czech Republic and other candidates being ready to be part of the first batch of countries to join the EU by 2004. Although accession talks come to a close by the end of the year, most candidate countries still have reforms ahead of them with the most painful being that in the financial sector as well as unemployment, Mr Schuessel noted.

Klaus addresses potential voters by telephone

Inspired by the U.S. Republican Party's pre-election campaign, the Czech Civic Democratic Party has began using the telephone as a means of gaining voters. On Sunday, several Czech citizens were surprised to hear the voice of Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus on the telephone, warning them against the dangers of socialism and urging citizens not to vote for left-of-centre parties at this weekend's election. However, instead of having a positive effect on potential voters, many of those called said the method of campaigning was an invasion of privacy, saying they did not like being held on the line by automatic messages, telling them who to vote for.

Environmentalists: new proof that Temelin is unsafe

The State Authority for Nuclear Safety has given the green light on Monday for the resumption of test operation of the first reactor of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The activation resulted in new protests from Czech and Austrian environmentalists as well as representatives of Austrian parties who claimed allowing the reactor's trial operation after 31 defects and 200 days of temporary shutdowns was irresponsible. Anti-nuclear activists have also announced that they have found new important evidence that proved the Temelin plant was unsafe, calling for it to be shut down immediately.

Officials accused of pocketing money meant for teachers

The Deputy Leader of the Social Democrats, Zdenek Skromach has accused officials in South Moravia of misusing money that was meant for increasing teachers' salaries. The officials reject the accusations, but Mr Skromach insists that the money has gone into their pockets. Education Minister, Eduard Zeman has also expressed his doubt about money allocation in various regions several times in the past.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday night is expected to be cloudy with rain and temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius. Tuesday will have partially clear skies in most parts of the country, turning cloudy towards the evening with occasional rain and thunder storms. Temperatures will reach a maximum of 21 degrees Celsius.