News Saturday, JULY 22nd, 2000

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CZECH-PETROL

The ruling Social Democratic Party has suggested it may introduce price controls on petrol if costs remain high. Party vice-chairman Zdenek Schromach said the current high prices were unfair - coming in the middle of the holiday season.

Oil prices have been rising in the Czech Republic since the beginning of the year, pushing up other prices too. The average price of petrol has risen by about 80 US cents per litre over the last six months.

Mr. Schromach said local prices did not reflect recent drops in the price of oil from producing countries, and that the government would consider asking the Competition Office to look into retailers´ pricing practices.

CZECH-IPB-COMMISSION

The head of the parliamentary commission investigating the near-collapse of IPB bank has rejected what he called "media attacks" on the commission´s work. Miroslav Kalousek said the commission would not react to these attacks, and would stick to its task.

The commission was set up to uncover the circumstances that led to IPB, the third largest Czech bank, almost running out of money last month. It was taken under forced administration and then sold off to CSOB - another major Czech bank.

The issue is highly controversial, with politicians from all sides blaming each other for the situation. It has been suggested that the parliamentary commission will innefectual. But Mr. Kalousek said "attacks" on the commission were clearly aimed at thwarting its work.

ROMA-NOMADIC

A group of about 30 young Roma, or gypsies, is making a return to the nomadic lifestyle of its forbears. The group set has out in two horse-drawn covered wagons from the town of Kladruby nad Labem in east Bohemia in an effort to relive those old times for the next three weeks.

They are even dressed in the colourful clothes that Roma wore for centuries. Among them is the Czech Republic´s only Roma member of Parliament, Monika Horakova. She explained that those who speak the Roma language will be encouraged to speak only in Roma during the trip, as part of efforts to revive it.

She added that the group wanted to experience for themselves what it was like when their forbears wandered the countryside.

The Roma´s travelling way of life was outlawed by the communist regime in 1958. Last year that law was finally repealed - on the basis of a proposal by members of Parliament for the communist party. However, most Roma believe it´s unlikely the community will ever go back to the lifestyle again in the future.

SPORT

Sport now - and after a draw in Switzerland, Czech soccer teams know who they´re up against in the Champions League third preliminary round.

Champions Sparta Prague will face the winner of the duel between Moldovan team Zhimbru Kisinev and Slovenia´s NK Maribor. Slavia Prague still have to overcome FC Shamkhor from Azerbaidjan before they can think about meeting either Shakhtor Donyetsk of Ukraine or Estonia´s Levadii Maardu.

At stake is a place in the group stage.

RAM-RAIDERS

And finally, there´s been a spate of ram-raiding in northern Moravia.

A police spokesman said that a thief drove his car through the main entrance of an electrical goods store in Olomouc at 4:30 in the morning, stealing 17 mobile phones and then driving off.

Half an hour before this a car had been reversed through a supermarket window in Sumperk. The driver and an accompice, wearing balaclavas, got out but found nothing worth stealing and made off empty handed.