News Saturday, AUGUST 14th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I am Ray Furlong and we begin the programme with a look at the news. First the headlines.

Those are the headlines - now the news in more detail.


Leaders of the Civic Democratic Party, the ODS, have said they know nothing about the latest allegations surrounding the party finances. The Mlada fronta Dnes newspaper has alleged the party failed to declare a gift worth over seven million crowns from a company involved in railway construction in 1996. Party spokesman Lukas Herold said the money was not mentioned in the independent audit which the party commissioned into its finances after the 1997 scandal which led to the downfall of the then ODS-led government. Other party leaders also said they knew nothing about the allegations. However, the director of the company concerned told Mlada fronta Dnes that his company had provided the ODS with the financial support.


Lawyers representing Czechs who were forced to work as slaves in German factories during the Second World War have announced a lawsuit against four German companies - Siemens, Volkswagen, Steyr-Daimler-Puch and Daimler-Chrysler. Two months ago 16 German companies announced a compensation plan for former slave labourers. But, announcing the lawsuit, lawyer Michael Witte said the companies concerned were trying to pay former slaves in eastern Europe less than those in the West - and that this was unacceptable, particularly since these companies were all now making profits in eastern markets. About 50,000 surviving Czechs, mostly now in their seventies, are claiming compensation. Their representatives said they now hoped for both financial compensation and moral satisfaction. In all, 650,000 Czechs were forced to work in German factories.


Pit workers at the Kohinoor coal mine in northern Bohemia have held their first strike in 67 years. The miners downed tools for an hour in protest at job losses and plans to close down their mine - the same reasons for the last strike, in 1932. Union leaders also said the government planned to sell off the state share in the mine for too low a price.


And now a bit of a shaggy dog story. A dog-owner in Plzen is boasting his five-year-old mongrel has set new standards for canine swimming. The dog, Ferda, swam for two kilometres behind his master - who was paddling along in a canoe. And it seems Ferda could have gone even further. When he got out of the water he showed no signs of fatigue, and started playing with a football.


And finally, the weekend weather. Watch out for cloudy skies, particularly in Western parts, on Saturday - and later on, there is also the chance of rain. Temperatures will reach 20 to 24 degrees Celsius, then falling overnight to between eleven and seven degrees. Sunday will see very similar conditions, and may be slightly cooler.