News Saturday, MAY 01th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Ray Furlong and we begin with the news headlines.

Now the news in more detail.

Row over Kosovo continues

The dispute between President Vaclav Havel and the government over policy on Kosovo has continued - with the Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, telling journalists that Havel had known the position of the cabinet before departing for NATOs recent Washington summit and had not protested.

The row began when Havel, speaking in the United States, said the government was damaging Czech credibility by refusing to take part in a possible ground operation in Kosovo.

Speaking with journalists on Friday, premier Zeman said the government would remain opposed to sending ground troops - and that Havel could just as well criticise the Greek government, which held the same position.

Meanwhile, speaking during a state visit to Canada, Havel said low public support in the Czech Republic for NATO airstrikes was partly because Czech politicians were not doing enough to explain them.

More refugees arrive

A plane carrying refugees from Kosovo has arrived in the Czech Republic, with 109 ethnic Albanians on board. They were taken by bus to a refugee centre where doctors were waiting to give them a check-up. The group included a woman in a late stage of pregnancy. It was the second group of refugees to arrive from Kosovo.

Police prepare for skinhead rally

Prague police are bracing themselves for the biggest ever gathering of skinheads and far-right activists that the Czech capital has ever witnessed.

Around 500 neo-Nazis - including some from Germany - are expected to take part in a demonstration marking May 1, on an island in the middle of Pragues Vltava river.

The island is traditionally the site of left-wing May Day gatherings, and police say they will try to keep the two sides apart. The island will be cordoned off and police reinforcements will be standing by.


The Environment Ministry is to call for the construction of the Temelin nuclear plant in the south of the country to be halted, at a meeting of the government in two weeks time.

This is according to the Austrian pressure group Global 2000, which claims it has a copy of a Czech Environment Ministry report to be submitted to the cabinet.

A spokesman for Global 2000 said the report confirmed the position of anti-Temelin campaigners, that the nuclear plant was unnecessary because there was no demand for extra electrical power.


Controversial opposition senator Vaclav Benda is seriously ill in a Prague hospital.

The CTK news agency quoted the deputy director of the hospital as saying that Benda was in a serious condition, but that he could give no further details. Bendas wife also confirmed that her husband was ill - but stressed that it was a private matter.

The news comes after the Senate voted this week not to strip Benda of his parliamentary immunity. The police had wanted to investigate him for his role in an international scandal in which he claimed that the former mayor of Vienna, Helmut Zilk, had once worked as a communist informer.


A quick look at the weekend weather now - and the forecast is a grim one of cloudy skies with possible rain or even storms. Saturday temperatures a reasonable 18 to 22 degrees celsius, and on Sunday between 16 and 20 degrees.


And finally, tonight is the night for burning witches - or at least sausages. All round the Czech Republic, people will be making bonfires for the traditional witch-burning festivities which mark the coming of spring.

But actually its all about cooking sausages and drinking beer - so there is no nothing to worry about, except perhaps the booze running out.

I am Ray Furlong and that is the news.