News Saturday, NOVEMBER 28th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Written/read by: Marketa Atanasova

Welcome to Radio Prague. These are the top Czech stories this hour, now the news in more detail, read by Marketa Atanasova.

CZECH-FARMERS-PROTEST

Czech farmers staged a number of protests on Friday against the import of subsidised pork from EU countries.

The protests on Friday afternoon caused serious traffic disruptions on highways. The crisis management team of the Agrarian Chamber publicly apologised for any inconvenience the protest may have caused.

But it said that farmers could not see any other possibility but blocking vital roads to draw public attention to the sorry state of Czech agriculture.

CZECH-GOVERNMENT-FARMERS

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Mertlik told correspondents that the government was not in a position to guarantee the same conditions to Czech farmers as those enjoyed by their colleagues in the European Union.

But he said the cabinet was acutely aware of the plight of the Czech farmers and was working to resolve the situation of the farm sector.

CZECH-FARMERS-POLITICS

Meanwhile, the main opposition Civic Democratic Party of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus said on Friday that the farmers' protests were a typical lobbyism by which farm producers are trying to assert their selfish interests at the expense of consumers.

The chairman of the ODS parliamentary club, Vlastimil Tlusty, said that if the government succumbed to the pressure the prices of domestically produced pork would go up dramatically, setting off a chain reaction and causing the inflation to soar.

The protests crippled traffic on practically all Czech roads but not in Prague, where no disruptions were reported.

Serious traffic accidents occurred in many places because of the blockade.

CZECH-KLAUS-POLAND

Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus has stirred controversy by his decision to use a private plane of the British Aerospace company for a flight to Warsaw, to attend an international conference and presentation of the Hawk jet trainer, manufactured by the firm.

The Hawk, a hot candidate for service with the Czech and Polish air forces, is a direct competitor of the Czech-built Aero L 159 advanced light combat aircraft.

CZECH-BANK-INFLATION

The Czech National Bank expects the net inflation to stay under the three-percent mark at the end of the year.

The bank's officials said on Friday that inflation was expected to gradually decrease until mid-1999. But they said this trend would be reversed in the middle of the year to send the net inflation soaring to between four and five percent.

PRAGUE-TAXI-COURT

The trial has begun in Prague of nine taxi drivers from a notorious cartel accused of harassment and blackmail of rival taxi firms.

The now-defunct Thorges organisation was established two years ago when the Prague townhall lifted price controls in the business. The prosecution says members of Thorges have used brutal methods against their rivals, including threats of torture and killing their rivals' families.

CZECH-PRESIDENT-CEREMONY

A ceremony was held at a Prague cemetery on Friday in remembrance of the controversial war-time Czech president Emil Hacha, who was elected on November 30, 1938.

The Prague-based Hacha Society said in a statement that 40 years of Communist propaganda had vilified Dr Hacha as a traitor and Nazi collaborator during the occupation of the Czech Lands.

Emil Hacha was elected unanimously in 1938 and served as the only president of the second Czechoslovak Republic, a short-lived entity stripped of large chunks of its borderland and existing only a few months, till March 1939 when the country was occupied by the Nazis.

But the society said that Hacha, who continued to serve as head of the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, had helped to save many lives and was an active opponent of the Germanisation of Czechs.

Hacha died in prison soon after the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945.

CZECH-PRAGUE-SMOG

The Prague Townhall on Friday called off the smog alert it declared two days ago because of inversion -- a weather condition which causes cold air to stay motionless at ground levels.

But nitrogen oxide concentrations remained high in some parts of the city and elsewhere in the Czech Republic.

CZECH-WEATHER

Talking about the weather -- the weekend will be wet, foggy and scattered snow showers will occur across the Czech territory.

Daytime temperatures will be around freezing point, dropping to three below at night.

The chief health officer warns that people with high pressure and heart problems should exercise caution and limit their outdoor activities.

I am Marketa Atanasova and that's the end of the news.