News Sunday, AUGUST 30th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start with a bulletin of domestic news:

President Vaclav Havel supports the intention of Radio Free Europe to broadcast from Czech territory to Iran and Iraq. He said this on Saturday during his interview for Czech radio, his first since undergoing intestinal surgery at the end of July. "When we were striving for what we finally realized--that is, Radio Free Europe having its headquarters in Prague--then we should have known, and many knew, that by doing so we were allowing this radio station to make a certain number of decisions, because it's RFE that decides what languages it will broadcast," said president Havel, adding that from a formal point of view, Radio Free Europe was not obliged to ask Czech authorities for permission. "Despite this, they did consult us", and I think we musn't applaud a radio station for spreading the idea of freedom for us and then refuse to promote this idea for the sake of others," president Havel told Czech radio. He also endorsed the idea of a direct presidential election, and of a majority voting system, two issues widely discussed by Czech politicians at present.

Some 1500 people participated in the ecological Local Street Party, held on Saturday in Prague. The demonstrators are expressing their disapproval of the world economy's globalization, the ailing transport situation in the Czech capital and also against what they saw as a flawed police crack-down during a similar venture earlier this year, in May. Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich was quoted as saying he had information about groups of people who are likely to instigate a conflict with the police at this event. But one of the organizers, Slavomir Tesarek, told Czech radio that they do not intend to clash with policemen and that he personally would do all he could to prevent it. The action will be controlled by 1000 policemen, 100 of whom will be accompanying the participants along the whole route. Water cannons are ready for action in the event of rioting or looting.

Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart was in the Sumava National Nature Park in South-West Bohemia on Saturday. The minister's visit was prompted by a plague of bark-beetles that has been threatening the Sumava Park for several years. Minister Kuzvart, accompanied by park administrators, saw the areas that have suffered the most, went to a tourist check-point on the Czech-German border and spent several hours in the town of Kasperske Hory, where he spoke with the town's Mayor about the controversial project of gold mining in this locality.