News Saturday, SEPTEMBER 30th, 2000

By: David Vaughan

Further political reactions to violent anti-IMF demonstrations

There have been further political reactions to the violent street disturbances earlier this week, which overshadowed the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Prague. Senator and former Interior Minister Jan Ruml condemned comments made after the riots by the deputy leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Miroslav Macek. He described Mr Macek's suggestion that police should have opened fire on rioting demonstrators as utterly irresponsible, saying that using the language of the battlefield served only to escalate violence. On Friday the leader of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, added his voice to those condemning the violence, but he said that the IMF did need radical reform and that dialogue with its opponents was essential. He regretted that the violence had turned Czech public opinion against all forms of anti-globalisation protest. 859 people were arrested during the demonstrations, including 330 foreigners. On Friday nine police officers and one protestor were still in hospital recovering from injuries sustained during the protests.

Anti-IMF protestors demonstrate outside Czech embassies

Anti-globalisation activists on Friday held a brief demonstration outside the Czech embassy in Madrid, claiming that Czech police had been involved in unprovoked aggression during Tuesday's clashes in Prague, in which numerous activists from Spain were involved. On Thursday, fifteen activists also occupied the Czech consulate in Barcelona, before being removed by police. There have been further protests at the Czech embassies in Germany and Switzerland, following similar incidents on Thursday in Paris, Vienna and Brussels. Activists in Prague have claimed that demonstrators arrested during Tuesday's clashes were held in inhuman and humiliating conditions. The Czech Police chief, Jiri Kolar, described the allegations as nonsense.

Possible new BMW plant

The Deputy Trade Minister, Vaclav Petricek, has said that the German car-maker BMW is considering the Czech Republic as a location for a new car assembly plant that could create up to three thousand new jobs. In its scale the plant would match the giant Skoda works in Mlada Boleslav, and the investment agency Czechinvest has confirmed that BMW is seriously interested. But at the same time the German manufacturer has made it clear that the Czech Republic is one of several countries throughout Europe under consideration.

Former Temelin employee says plant unsafe

Austrian anti-nuclear activists have again staged protests on the Czech-Austrian border against the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant, shortly to go into operation. However, unlike on previous occasions they did not block border posts, saying that they wanted to focus their anger on the plant's management itself and not on the Czech Republic as a whole. Friday's edition of the Austrian newspaper Kurier, carried an interview with a former Temelin employee, who claims that the plant is unsafe. Zdenek Beck told the paper that numerous experts had stopped working on Temelin's construction since 1989, to be replaced by several hundred private firms, which put profits before safety.

Social Democrats propose popular minister as ombudsman

The leadership of the ruling Social Democrats has proposed that the popular Justice Minister, Otakar Motejl be appointed as ombudsman, a new post recently approved by parliament, as the Czech Republic's official guarantor of human rights. If parliament approves the nomination, Mr Motejl will have to leave his post in the government. He is currently the only cabinet member without party affiliation. Several opposition members of parliament have already said they also consider Mr Motejl to be an acceptable candidate.


And finally, the weekend's weather forecast. Saturday should see mist in the morning, clearing around lunchtime to make way for sunny skies. Daytime temperatures should get as high as 22 degrees Celsius. Sunday will be clear and sunny, with temperatures up to 21 degrees.