News Sunday, APRIL 30th, 2000

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.


Czech President Vaclav Havel has warned that the restoration of civic society after the collapse of communism is a formidable challenge.

Mr Havel wrote in an article for Saturday's German daily Die Welt that many Czech political leaders are wary of the efforts to build a civic society which they view as an affront to the political system and a threat for parliamentary democracy.

Havel noted that while it was possible to restore freedom of the press or assembly almost instantly, the renewal of a civic society as the foundation of democracy appears to be an infinitely more difficult task.

Our news analyst says that President Havel's article in Die Welt is a thinly veiled attack on his opponents from Parliament Speaker Vaclav Klaus's main opposition Civic Democratic Party.


The West Bohemian town of Cheb on Saturday marked the 55th anniversary of its liberation by U.S. troops at the end of the Second World War. Present to the ceremonies were the U.S. Military Attache to the Czech Republic Scott Salyers and over 40 American war veterans who took part in the armed operation 55 years ago to liberate the western chunks of Czechoslovakia.

Cheb, a town near the German border, was a stronghold of Nazi supporter and war criminal Konrad Henlein whose party was instrumental in dismantling Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s.


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has announced that the prime ministers of the four Visegrad Group countries will meet in Prague on June 9 for a summit conference.

Kavan made his announcement after a meeting with his Slovak opposite number Eduard Kukan in Bratislava.

The Visegrad Group, founded nine years ago, comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.


The mother of Emil Novotny, a Czech drug peddler serving a 50-year prison term in Thailand, has praised the Czech Foreign Ministry for the efforts that last week finally led to signing a prisoner-exchange treaty with Bangkok.

She said in an interview to Czech Radio on Saturday that so far all attempts to ensure her son's repatriation had failed.

Novotny and another Czech, Radek Hanykovics, were both sentenced to 50 years in jail after drugs were found on them on arrival in Thailand two years ago. The new treaty would technically enable both inmates to serve their sentences in the Czech Republic.


A group of American companies that had factories in Nazi Germany plans to establish a fund that would aid people who suffered persecution under Hitler's rule. In World War II, Many citizens of the captive nations including Czechs and Slovaks were forced to do slave labour in the factories of the Nazi Third Reich, including the subsidiaries of American firms.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that the fund, to be set up under the auspices of the United States Chamber of Commerce, is at least partly intended to head off class-action lawsuits against well-known American companies that had subsidiaries in Germany during the war or later purchased companies that had operations there.


The environmental group South Bohemian Mothers on Saturday met in Ceske Budejovice to mark the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and to protest the planned launching in a few weeks' time of the controversial Temelin nuclear power station nearby.

The protest, watched by invited Austrian and German anti-nuclear activists, ended in a happening re-enacting the history of the project which many European environmentalists see as extremely hazardous. The Temelin plant marries dated Soviet technologies to a sophisticated Western safety equipment.


The Czech town of Terezin, which the Nazis transformed into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camps, on Saturday received a gift in the form of a on-million-dollar grand piano donated to the victims of Terezin by civic groups from Japan.

The funds for the purchase of the precious musical instrument were raised by the Japanese pianist Izumi Shimura.


And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Warm southeastern air will continue to pour into the Czech Republic on Sunday, bringing along some rain and daytime highs between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.

Monday and Tuesday will be wet days with temperatures ranging from 18 to 22 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.