News Sunday, DECEMBER 03th, 2000

By: Libor Kubik

Top level scandal comes to a head

The Czech Republic moved one step closer to a constitutional crisis at the weekend when President Vaclav Havel publicly accused Prime Minister Milos Zeman and former central bank chief Josef Tosovsky of blackmailing the head of state.

In his article for the leading Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, the president alleged that both men had been aggressive in the course of appointing the new governor of the Czech National Bank, and had exerted unacceptable pressure on Havel.

In his article, Mr Havel described the government's attempt to make the constitutional court investigate why he decided to appoint the bank's new chief without having the decree countersigned by the prime minister as a premeditated move to re-interpret the Constitution along political lines.

In the same newspaper, Prime Minister Zeman rejected Havel's criticism. Mr Tosovsky had no comment to offer.

Havel recovering from penumonia

Meanwhile, President Havel continued to recover from pneumonia he contracted last weekend.

His spokesman says that Mr Havel, who suffered from life-threatening respiratory illnesses in the past, will continue recovering at the presidential chateau outside Prague next week, but will gradually return to work.

Sixty-four-year-old President Havel cancelled his programme this week, including a meeting with Austrian President Thomas Klestil. The only exception was Wednesday's nomination of the new central bank governor.

Soul searching in ruling party after election defeat

Leaders of the ruling Czech Social Democratic Party continued soul searching at a meeting in Hradec Kralove after a crushing defeat in last month's Senate and regional parliamentary elections.

The party's top officials are facing the task of replacing their leader Milos Zeman, who said he would not run for the post in the spring. Mr Zeman's preferred successor is Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla.

In a surprise announcement, another hot contender, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, said he would not run and would support Mr Spidla in an effort to preserve party unity.

Hundreds reenact Napoleon Battle of Austerlitz

Hundreds of volunteers in period costumes and gear reenacted the famous Battle of Austerlitz in which Napoleon's troops clashed with Austrian and Russian armies 195 years ago this Saturday.

Military history clubs from several European countries marked Napoleon's triumph in the Battle of Three Emperors near Slavkov, or Austerlitz outside Brno in Moravia.

The battle of Austerlitz was an episode in Napoleon's military crusade which redrew the political map of Europe nearly two centuries ago.

Czech weather report

Sunday will be a wet and cloudy day here in the Czech Republic, with drizzling rain in some areas, nighttime lows around freezing point and daytime highs between four and eight degrees Celsius.

Monday morning will be foggy, and the skies will be cloudy all day long, with scattered showers and drizzle. Nighttime lows between zero and four degrees above, daytime highs between five and nine Celsius.

On Tuesday, we expect early morning lows between minus one and plus three degrees, and daytime highs between four and eight degrees Celsius. We also expect rain showers.