News Saturday, OCTOBER 03th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Ray Furlong and we start with the news headlines.

Those are the headlines - and now the news in more detail.


President Vaclav Havel has visited Czech Republic's rapid deployment unit, which specialises in anti-terrorist duties and activities directed against organised crime. The visit, which follows his visit to the counter-intelligence service, the BIS, earlier this week, was inspired by Havel's recent trip to the United States where he was asked about Czech preparedness in these fields ahead of NATO membership. Havel's spokesman said the two visits had left him with a good impression. The spokesman for the rapid deployment squad said that at present the Czech Republic did not face any terrorist threat, even in connection with Radio Free Europe broadcasting from Prague to Iran and Iraq.


The Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has said he hopes that the head of his "clean hands" anti-corruption drive will not resign from his position - just days after being appointed. The Mlada fronta Dnes newspaper reported that Jan Sula had decided to resign after receiving threats to his family. Zeman said the threats were "disgusting," and merely showed that some people had plenty to fear. He went on to say that he had no doubt they would soon end up behind bars. However, Ivan Langer, speaking for the main opposition Civic Democrats, welcomed the news that Sula had decided to resign from the post - arguing that the former chief of counter- intelligence was too controversial a figure.


Czech farmers may get tough and start protesting against agricultural imports from the European Union with French and Polish-style blockades of the border. That's the message that the head of the Chamber of Agriculture, Vaclav Hlavacek, has given the CTK news agency in an interview. He said the blockades could begin in the next few weeks if the government did not take decisive action to reduce farm imports - which, he added, were threatening to destroy Czech agriculture and cause a large increase in domestic food prices. Czech farmers last held a demonstration against the level of imports in May, with a protest on Prague's Old Town Square.


The municipal court in Prague has given a five-year prison sentence to Alim Karmov, a Russian businessman who embezzled 40 million crowns from his investment fund in 1995 and '96. Karmov's case caused a great deal of media interest at the time, particularly since he sought to defend himself by posting an advert in a Czech newspaper in which he described himself as a "Russian beast" and begged for forgiveness. But his clients, mostly small investors who in some cases lost everything, were not in a forgiving mood and crammed outside his offices to get their money back. Many of the clients were also at the trial, and said they did not consider the five-year sentence sufficient. Both the state attorney's office and Karmov can appeal.


And finally, a meeting between three ministers and a group of environmentalists didn't take place as planned on Friday - because the activists missed their tram. The six environmentalists were organisors of the two controversial "Street Party" demonstrations which took place in Prague this summer. "Some people travel by car, but we go by trams - which run according to their own timetable," said one of the activists, who also expressed surprise that the ministers could not have waited another ten minutes for his delegation to arrive.