News of Radio Prague

Czech Interior Minister visits USA to discuss fighting terrorism

Czech interior minister Stanislav Gross arrived in the United States on Saturday for a seven-day working visit. The main focus of the visit is fighting terrorism, organised crime and money laundering. Mr. Gross is to meet with the Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, as well as the head of FBI and CIA. Mr. Gross is accompanied by Czech police president Jiri Kolar, and heads of the Czech intelligence and counterintelligence services and other officials. The United States perceive the Czech Republic as an ally in the war on terrorism. Visits of Czech interior ministers to the United States over the past few years have not been very frequent.

Czech astronaut to run for seat in European Parliament

The first and only Czech astronaut, Vladimir Remek, has confirmed that he was interested in running in the country's first election to the European Parliament on the Communist Party's candidate list. Mr. Remek's confirmation followed several insider reports this week in the Pravo newspaper about his alleged negotiations with leaders of the Communist Party. Remek, who is 55, currently works in the commercial section at the Czech Republic's embassy in Moscow. Mr. Remek flew with a Russian partner on the Soyuz 28 mission in 1978, becoming the first person in space who was neither American nor Russian. Czech voters will choose 24 of the European parliament's 732 seats after European Union enlargement in May.

Czech banks show 60 percent rise in mortgage lending in 2003

Czech banks have reported a 60-percent increase in mortgage lending in 2003. In total, Czech banks provided some 34,000 mortgage loans last year, benefiting largely from record-low interest rates and growing wages in the economy. Last year's figure accounts for about a third of the total number of mortgage loans the banks have provided so far. However, bankers said the favourable conditions on the market are bound to change. Interest rates will most probably increase in the second half of the year and tax changes will reduce real incomes.

Tennis - Novak loses in third round of Australia Open

14th seed Czech Jiri Novak lost to unseeded Romanian Andrei Pavel in the third round of the Australia Open tournament. Pavel was out for most of 2003 with a back problem, but managed to win over the Czech player number one 4-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 in more than three hours long battle.

Weather forecast

Night-time temperatures in some places reached record low levels on Saturday - in Prague, it was minus 18.6 degrees Celsius, the coldest 24th of January ever. On Sunday, we are expecting another freezing day, with daytime temperatures ranging from 7 to 3 degrees Celsius below zero.