News of Radio Prague
Pending Cabinet re-shuffle
Leaders of the three-party ruling coalition are holding emergency talks in an attempt to diffuse a row that threatens to split the center-left cabinet. The two month old coalition government is up against its first serious crisis following Parliament's rejection of proposed flood-related tax hikes last Friday. The proposed tax-reform fell through when Freedom Union deputy Hana Marvanova broke ranks with the coalition to honor an election pledge not to raise taxes. The embarrassing one-vote defeat has underlined the fragility of the present ruling coalition and led to emergency talks on a Cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has called on the three Freedom Union ministers to resign and hinted that he may decide to form a minority government with the Christian Democrats that would rely on tacit support from the Communist Party. President Havel, who is due to leave on an official visit to the United States on Tuesday, is meeting the three party leaders on Monday evening in a last minute effort to help resolve the crisis.
Marvanova resigns as Parliament deputy speaker
In a related development Hana Marvanova on Monday resigned from the post of deputy speaker of Parliament. She did so under pressure from her own party, the Freedom Union, after jeopardizing its position in the ruling coalition. Although the party has asked Mrs Marvanova to resign her deputy post in Parliament as well, she refuses to do so on the grounds that as deputy she is answerable to her electorate and must abide by her election promises .
"Daylight robbery" of over 100 million crowns
The police is investigating a bank robbery of over 100 million crowns. Three masked assailants hijacked a Citibank van early on Monday, taking the driver and security guard hostage and making off with 100 million crowns in bank notes. The driver and security guard were later released when the robbers transferred the loot to another vehicle. Police have asked potential witnesses to come forward. Citibank has issued a terse statement saying the money was insured and its clients have no reason to worry about their savings.
Former communist top officials face treason charges
Two former high ranking communist party officials are on trial for their part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Milous Jakes, former general secretary of the Czechoslovak communist party and Jozef Lenart, former communist prime minister, face charges of treason for attempting to legalize the Soviet led invasion through the formation of a "workers' government" which would have replaced the existing government. The proposal was rejected by the former Czechoslovak president Ludvik Svoboda . Both officials, now in their 80s, plead innocent of the charges leveled against them. Mr. Lenart said in his defense that he had been informed about the plan to form a workers' government by Soviet embassy officials and had merely relayed the proposal to then President Svoboda. The court case has generated enormous media interest.
President Havel US visit
President Havel is due to fly to Washington on Tuesday for a six-day official visit to the United States, his last before he steps down as president in four months' time. The US agenda includes talks with President Bush on global security and the war against terrorism, a visit to the site of the terrorist attacks against the New York Trade Centre and a meeting with Cuban dissidents in Miami. The president's office has described the visit as "a kind of farewell trip", saying that President Havel sees it as a last chance to use his unique position in the United States to influence world affairs.
Tuesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and afternoon highs between 13 and 18 degs C.