News Sunday, AUGUST 27th, 2000

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Bus crash

Eleven people have been injured, six of them seriously, in a crash involving a bus in the west of the country. On Friday night the bus, which was carrying tourists from Poland, collided with a lorry on the main motorway from Plzen to Prague. It appears that the lorry hit the bus from behind, but the precise cause of the accident is not yet clear. Rescue services spent over an hour freeing passengers trapped in the bus and used helicopters to transport some of the injured to hospital.

Havel congratulates Poland's Solidarity on twentieth anniversary

The Czech President Vaclav Havel has congratulated Lech Walesa on the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Polish trade union Solidarity. In a letter Mr Havel pointed to the role played by Solidarity in the struggle against communist rule. He said that on several occasions in history Poland had been an inspiration for Czechs, showing that things can be changed even if on the surface the situation looks hopeless. He added that Solidarity had been a symbol of the struggle for freedom, and that the sacrifices made by Solidarity members had also helped the Czech Republic.

UN calls for prevention of discrimination in the Czech Republic

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on the Czech Republic to amend certain laws to prevent discrimination against the Romany minority in housing, education and employment. In particular they pointed to the disproportionate number of Romany children in special schools for the mentally disabled. The committee further urged the Czech Republic to prosecute perpetrators of incitement to racial hatred and violence against minorities. In neighbouring Slovakia, which also has a large Romany minority, the funeral took place on Friday of a Romany woman, who was beaten to death in a racist assault last week.

Havel expresses fears of a comeback by old communists

President Havel has expressed fears that people associated with the old Communist regime are trying to regain influence. After meeting the Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, he said there is evidence of attempts to undermine the Czech Republic's credibility abroad, and warned that some people close to the old communist regime are trying to push their way back into positions of influence on the pretext that they have particular professional skills. Mr Gross said that his ministry was aware of the dangers, and was setting up a new department to investigate economic and organized crime as well as crime committed within the police force.

Anarchists on hunger strike

A group of ten anarchists have continued a two-day hunger strike in central Prague, in a protest intended to draw attention to the hunger of people in the poorest countries of the world. The organizers stated that part of the blame for poverty lay with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and they said that the hunger strike was one of a number of activities planned in protest against the IMF/World Bank annual meeting in Prague next month.

And some football news....

Champions' League Draw

The Czech champions Sparta Prague are still reeling after the shock of Friday's draw for the Champions' League, set to begin next month. Not only will they have to play the favourites, Lazio Rome, but they also come up against Arsenal and - ironically - Donetsk, who last week knocked another Prague team Slavia out of the qualifiers. Sparta's trainer described the draw as "a slap in the face"./ In the draw for the UEFA cup, Czech teams come out a bit better. Drnovice face the toughest challenge, playing 1860 Munich in the first round.

Weather

Sunday will be bright but with cloud coming in from the west, with temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius. It will be overcast on Monday with showers and the occasional thunderstorm, and temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees.