News of Radio Prague


Foreign Minister Svoboda meets New Zealand counterpart and alleged Czech orchid smugglers

Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, who is on an official visit to New Zealand, has met his counterpart Phil Goff to discuss, among other things, the "Working Holiday" programme which should enable young people from the Czech Republic to study and work in New Zealand. According to the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Mr Svoboda and Mr Goff also touched on the case of two Czech citizens accused of smuggling rare orchids from New Zealand. Minister Svoboda later met the two men, the dean of Palacky University's Medical Faculty in Olomouc Cestmir Cihalik, and Jindrich Smitak, a former employee of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, who are awaiting trial in New Zealand.

Sobotka: regulated rents to grow slower

Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said that regulated rents might not rise by ten percent annually in the next three years, as previously agreed by the ruling coalition, but only by seven to eight percent per year. Mr Sobotka had admitted on Friday that the coalition agreement might change. The reason for the potential change is the impending transfer of tap water from the five-percent VAT rate to the nineteen-percent rate. The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Zdenek Skromach said last week that the ten-percent increase in regulated rents would be socially intolerable. The originally proposed gradual rise in regulated rents was supposed to narrow the gap between market prices and state-regulated rents.

Opening of Bohemian Hall delayed

The deputy Foreign Minister Petr Kolar has said the official opening of the Bohemian Hall in New York City will be delayed by several months due to complications during renovation works. Mr Kolar said so after visiting the site on Saturday. The Bohemian National Hall was constructed at the end of the 19th century in a part of Manhattan that became known as Little Bohemia, after the Czech community that lived there. Until recently the building was owned by the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, but in 2001 ownership was transferred to the Czech Republic for the symbolic fee of one dollar. The Czech Foreign Ministry committed itself to covering the renovation costs which have so far exceeded 10 million dollars. The Bohemian Hall will house the Czech consulate general, the Czech Center and a restaurant serving Czech cuisine. It will also serve as a meeting place for Czech expatriates in New York.

Cameraman Miroslav Ondricek tabbed for 2004 ASC International Achievement Award

Czech cameraman Miroslav Ondricek is going to receive the American Society of Cinematographers International Achievement Award on Sunday evening in Los Angeles, California. Mr Ondricek will be the second artist from Central and Eastern Europe to receive the award. After finishing his studies at the Prague film school FAMU, Mr Ondricek first worked on documentaries in the 1950s. The prolific cameraman began his film career with the emergence of what was known as the "New Wave" of Czechoslovak film in the early 1960s when he cooperated with director Milos Forman. Mr Ondricek joined Milos Forman in the United States in 1970 and together they created such films as Hair, Amadeus and Valmont. Mr Ondricek earned Oscar nominations for Ragtime in 1982 and for Amadeus in 1985.


Monday is expected to be a partially cloudy day with occasional snow. Daytime temperatures should drop to lows of minus 6 degrees Celsius. The maximum daytime temperatures should not exceed plus 2 degrees Celsius.