News Saturday, JULY 04th, 1998

The leaders of the two strongest political parties, Milos Zeman of the Social Democrats and Vaclav Klaus of the ODS, have held talks on a possible deal in which Klaus's ODS would tolerate a government formed by Zeman's party. Speaking after the talks, Zeman said they had been discussing the conditions under which such an arrangement could be made. Klaus added that they had mapped the possibilities for drawing up a contract containing these conditions. Zeman's attempt at forming a coalition with two smaller parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, collapsed on Thursday. Earlier on Friday, efforts by Klaus at forming a centre-right coalition with these same two parties also looked doomed after they said his conditions amounted to a "diktat." Zeman and Klaus are to meet again for further talks on Tuesday - but both stressed that at this stage there were still several possibilities for forming the next government.

President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar has won five million crowns damages from a shoe company which used a bust of him in an advert. The court award amounts to over a hundred thousand dollars and will be donated to victims of last year's heavy flooding. Havel and his wife brought the court action after they felt offended by the advert, which was accompanied with a slogan featuring expletives in the English language. The advert has since been withdrawn, but the court refused their demand for a ban on it being distributed again.

The famous and the not-so-famous have transformed the spa town of Karlovy Vary into a shrine to film, in honour of the city's 33rd annual film festival. Guest of honour is American actor Michael Douglas, but as well as celebrities members of the public also have the chance to take part in the annual film extravaganza - and tickets for the opening ceremony were totally sold out despite each costing about half the average Czech monthly wage. The town has also been transformed by glittering images from the silver screen, which are illuminated at night, and are scattered along the river which runs through Karlovy Vary's centre.

The Czech Catholic Church looks set to become the first in Europe to reopen the book on witch hunts from the middle-ages, according to the CTK news agency - which quotes the Bishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner, as saying that it's necessary to recognise the truth about past events. Graubner has established a commission looking into a witch hunt carried out in north Moravia during the inquisition which resulted in hundreds of executions. The case, in which a Catholic Priest was also burnt at the stake after confessing to witchcraft during torture, was made famous by a black-and-white film which is a classic of Czech cinema. CTK also quotes a Church historian as saying Graubner's investigation is a reaction to an appeal made by Pope John Paul II for the Church to re-examine moments in the past when it failed in its moral calling.