News Sunday, AUGUST 02th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start with the headlines:

The new Czech cabinet will appoint a special governmental representative for human rights

The National Security Office starts working on August the 1st

and the new Environment minister has inspected the flooded areas in Eastern Bohemia.

Those were the main points and now the news in more detail:

The appointment of a new functionary, a governmental representative for human rights, by the Social democrat cabinet does not mean introducing a brand new concept, but - according to Minister without portfolio Jaroslav Basta - giving work in this field a more effective and dignified legal framework. At his press conference on Friday, Basta also disclosed the name of the hottest candidate for the new post: journalist Petr Uhl. "The person in charge will look into all cases involving the violation of human rights and will have a budget to cover his activities," said Basta. The minister has promised to representatives of the Romany community that the new cabinet will devote greater attention to the problems of human rights, ethnic minorities and Romanies than the previous government did. The human rights representative is expected to present an annual report suggesting solutions to human rights problems, and his main task will be to get bodies which do not fulfill their function into motion, Basta explained.

The National Security Office starts its work on Saturday as an independent central body of state administration. Although the Office was set up in March, till now it has functioned as part of the Interior Ministry. The main activities of the Office will be screening persons who have access to classified documents, and companies which will take part in strategic orders. The public and media started to show special interest in this institution last week, after the new Interior minister Vaclav Grulich dismissed the Security Office's director, Pavel Kolar. According to unofficial information, Grulich did not like Kolar's proposal, mentioned in mass media, to screen all the new ministers.

Environment minister Milos Kuzvart on Saturday visited the flooded areas in Eastern Bohemia. He went to the villages that suffered the most damage, and also paid a visit to the Crisis command in Rychnov nad Kneznou. Minister Kuzvart was accompanied by chairman of the Social democrat parliamentary deputy club Stanislav Gross, members of the governmental flood committee and mayors of the communities struck by the floods ten days ago. Kuzvart has called a session of the governmental flood committee for next Monday. It will deal with making a comprehensive list of the damage that was done, and the distribution of financial means needed for repair.

President Vaclav Havel is doing well after last weekend's intestinal operation at the Prague Military Hospital, but during his gradual transfer from respirator to spontaneous breathing a small complication arose in his right lung, which was unable to accept enough air. The president's team of doctors has been considering carrying out a tracheotomy, that is to surgically open the president's windpipe - says a report that was handed over to the CTK news agency by Havel's personal physician, Ilja Kotik.