News Saturday, FEBRUARY 21st, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Daniela Lazarova and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

The four UN military observers held hostage in Western Georgia were reported to be in good condition Friday, but no progress has been made in negotiations on their release

President Havel has accepted ODA leader Jiri Skalicky's resignation from government posts

and the Czech republic is in the final of the Olympics ice hockey tournament after beating Canada 2:1 Friday

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

The four UN military observers being held hostage in Western Georgia were reported to be in good condition Friday. One of the hostages, a Czech lieutenant-colonel, was allowed a phone call to the Czech embassy in Moscow but officials have refused to disclose its contents . An official statement for the media said all four UN observers as well as the inhabitants of the house in which the kidnappers have barricaded themselves are alive and well. Negotiations on their release are described as "exceedingly complicated". The kidnappers have demanded the release from jail of all suspects arrested in connection with the February 9th failed attempt on the life of Georgian president Eduard Shevarnadze as well as all political prisoners and a withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia.

President Vaclav Havel has accepted ODA leader Jiri Skalicky's resignation from government posts. Although he is not personally implicated in the financing scandal which has shaken the party in its foundations the vice-premier and environment minister maintains that his presence in the Tosovsky cabinet would damage its reputation. Skalicky has also decided to quit as party leader. Meanwhile, as the scandal surrounding the ODA grows, justice minister Vlasta Parkanova has also announced she is leaving party ranks.

President Havel who underwent a minor operation on his neck earlier this week is reported to be making a good recovery and is expected to be discharged from hospital on Sunday. In the operation surgeons closed an opening in the president's trachea which was causing frequent inflammations of the respiratory tract. Doctors say Vaclav Havel will be able to resume work in a week to ten days. He has been advised to take at least two holidays a year and spend them at the seaside or in the mountains.

Czech hockey fans went wild Friday morning when the Czech republic beat Canada and moved into the Olympic final. The teams had finished 1:1 at the end of the third period and when ten minutes of sudden death overtime failed to break the deadlock the match went to a dramatic penalty shootout in which Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek saved the day turning aside everything the Canadians had to offer. Czech Robert Reichel scored the only goal of the shootout. On Sunday the Czechs will play Russia for the gold.

And finally the weather: Saturday should be another clear and sunny day with temps between 11 and 15 degs C. Sunday is expected to be more overcast, with scattered showers and lower day temps - between 7 and 11 degs C.