News of Radio Prague
Havel sacks ambassador to Kazakhstan
Czech President Vaclav Havel fired the country's ambassador to Kazakhstan on Monday, over his alleged involvement in a scandal concerning a plot to kill a leading Prague journalist. According to President Havel's spokesman, Miroslav Andr was relieved of his duties in Astana following a recommendation by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla's government. Whilst the Czech government, the President's office and the Foreign Ministry refused to give further details, Czech and Kazakh media reports have linked Mr Andr to Karel Srba - a former official at the Czech foreign ministry, who was arrested in July for allegedly leading a plot to kill newspaper reporter Sabina Slonkova. The reports claimed Mr Andr worked under Mr Srba as a military intelligence agent. Mr Andr has rejected the allegations, saying he hadn't spoken with Mr Srba since 1999.
EP report: Benes decrees not to stand in way of Czech accession to EU
Austrian Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, rejected a pro-Benes decrees report presented to the European Parliament on Monday and said that Austria would continue to hold talks with the Czech Republic over the controversial decrees. The historic Benes decrees, sanctioned the expulsion and confiscation of property of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Amidst the Czech Republic's preparation for EU membership, the decrees have become a highly politicised issue by right-of centre and far-right parties in both Germany and Austria, calling for them to be repealed before the Czech Republic was allowed to become and EU member. An analysis of the decrees' compatibility with current EU legislation made for the European Parliament by a group of lawyers headed by the German Professor Jochen Frowein, however, said that the decrees could not stand in the way of the Czech Republic's accession to the EU. Mrs Ferrero-Waldner has dismissed the report, saying it focused solely on the legal aspect of the decrees and failed to consider the political and moral aspects.
Ostrava mining company to undergo massive lay-off
The OKD black-coal mining company in Ostrava, North Moravia, is expected to dismiss a little 5,800 miners within the next five years. The company's trade union leader Miroslav Syrovy, said on Monday, that OKD's majority owner Karbon Invest submitted a plan to the supervisory board calling for the number of miners to be reduced from about 19,000 to 11,000 by 2007. According to OKD spokesman Radek Chalupa, the plan aims at maintaining the company's competitiveness. Mr Syrovy, however, expressed fears that the current staff would be replaced by cheap labour from abroad in order to save hundreds of millions of Czech crowns annually. The Czech Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Zdenek Skromach, said that his ministry had sufficient means to limit such a massive lay-off, if the OKD should really intend to go ahead with the plan.
Monday night is expected to have partially clear skies with temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius. We can expect early morning fog on Tuesday with skies turning clear and temperatures reaching a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius by the afternoon.