News of Radio Prague

Japanese Emperor visits Prague sites

On the first full day of his four-day state visit to the Czech Republic, the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, have been visiting some of the historic sites of Prague. They laid a wreath at the statue of the Czech patron, Saint Wenceslas and at the town hall they were symbolically given the key to the city. On Monday they will be meeting President Vaclav Havel, and on Tuesday will move on to Poland, continuing their two-week tour of Europe. This is the first visit of a Japanese head of state to the Czech Republic.

Spidla close to being named Prime Minister

A number of politicians involved in talks to put together a new Czech coalition government have said that President Vaclav Havel is likely to name the Social Democrat chief, Vladimir Spidla as the new Czech Prime Minister on Tuesday. The President's spokesman confirmed that this was a possibility. The head of the Christian Democrats, another of the parties involved in coalition talks, Cyril Svoboda, said that a final list of cabinet members should be ready within hours.

New problems over Temelin

Austrian opponents to the Temelin nuclear power plant have said that the latest problems with plant's second reactor are further evidence of its flawed design. Plans to integrate the reactor into the Czech national grid had to be postponed on Friday. A spokesman for the plant, which combines Soviet and American technologies and is close to the Austria border, said that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would take several days to establish the precise cause.

And in a connected story, local Austrian politicians, mayors and environmental activists met over the weekend in the border village of Mardetschlag. They said that they wanted to renew dialogue with their counterparts on the Czech side of the border over the future of Temelin. They agreed that it was counterproductive to reduce cooperation between communities and schools on both sides of the border because of the row over the nuclear plant. The meeting was also attended by the mayors of three Czech villages.

Plane crash

The cause of a fatal plane crash on Saturday in the north of the Czech Republic involving an ultralight aircraft remains unclear. The passenger, a thirty-six year old professional photographer died as he was taking aerial photographs of the historic chapel on Rip Hill, and the sixty-year-old pilot was taken to hospital with injuries. This is the latest in a series of crashes in the Czech Republic involving ultralight aircraft and there have been some calls for their use to be more tightly regulated.

Bad weather and good spirits at film festival

Despite traditional bad weather with heavy rain, there has been a party atmosphere over the weekend at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, with concerts and parties alongside a marathon of film screenings. As part of the section devoted to films from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, filmmakers from the region discussed the problems they currently face, in particular difficulties with raising money. Film critic Gergana Dakovska said that only four full-length feature films are made in her native Bulgaria each year. But the young Russian director, Sergej Potemkin was optimistic, saying that support for films in Russia, including film debuts, has increased. Over the weekend, visitors to the festival also had the chance to meet the most famous contemporary Korean director, Kim Ki-Duk, seven of whose films are being shown in Karlovy Vary. We'll be bringing you reports from the festival throughout the week.

Legacy of reformer Jan Hus remembered

Prague's Bethlehem Chapel was packed on Saturday evening for an ecumenical service. It was held to remember the legacy of the Czech reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in the German town of Constance on the 6th July 1415. The Patriarch of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, Jan Schwarz, who led the service, said that it was apt that today the Bethlehem Chapel does not belong to any single church or denomination. Jan Hus often preached in the chapel, one of the first places where sermons were given in Czech rather than Latin.


And finally a glance at the weather...

We can expect the week to start with brighter weather as showers and thunderstorms ease off and skies clear. Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday may reach over thirty degrees.