News Sunday, JULY 18th, 1999

Radio Prague Enews Written/read by: Rob Cameron Date: 18/7/99

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first a look at the news headlines.

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

Svoboda under fresh pressure following Zeman call for resignation

The political career of the Czech Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda looks increasingly uncertain, after Premier Milos Zeman said on Friday that he should resign until a criminal investigation into allegations of misconduct in his private business dealings has been completed. Police announced on Thursday that they were charging Mr Svoboda with damaging creditors of a company he co-managed before taking the ministerial post last year. The company, which manufactured baby carriages, went bankrupt in 1997 amid allegations of asset-stripping, and Mr Svoboda could face a jail sentence of two to eight years if convicted. Premier Zeman said on Thursday that Mr Svoboda should bear responsibility for his mistakes, but stopped short of calling for his resignation. The premier is due to announce a cabinet re-shuffle next week. Political analysts say if Mr Svoboda refuses to step down, he is almost certain to be excluded from Mr Zeman´s new cabinet.

UN Secretary General praises Havel over Kosovo trip

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has praised Czech President Vaclav Havel over his recent visit to Kosovo, a trip which caused controversy in Prague and condemnation from Belgrade. Mr Annan, meeting the president at Havel's country cottage in northeast Bohemia, said that the visit had made a strong political point in the region. The Secretary General, who is currently on a two-day official visit to the Czech Republic, told reporters that President Havel´s interest in Kosovo had encouraged both the victims of the crisis as well as the international community. He also said the Czech Republic, despite its size, played an important role in the United Nations. Havel was the first foreign head of state to enter Kosovo since the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. He spent several hours meeting ethnic Albanians who were victims of Serb violence.

Analysts calm in wake of strong Communist poll showing

Politicians and political analysts in Prague have been trying to play down the results of a new opinion poll, which showed public support for the largely unreformed Czech Communist Party leaping to 18 percent, one point ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. If an election were held tomorrow the Communists would be the second biggest party in parliament, just five points behind the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats. However the director of the agency which conducted the poll said the party´s rising popularity reflected voter dissatisfaction with the current government rather than genuine support for the Communists. Premier Zeman told a party press conference that in his opinion support for the Communists should revert to previous levels when the economic situation stabilises.

Bila admits surgery after tabloid cancer story

One of the country´s best-loved female singers, Lucie Bila, has admitted undergoing preventative surgery in hospital, after a tabloid newspaper claimed on Friday that she was suffering from cancer of the uterus. Ms Bila, who is 33, sent a statement to the Czech News Agency saying she would not comment in detail on her illness, but called on all women in the country to undergo testing for the disease. Doctors say that some 20 out of every 100,000 women in the Czech Republic develop cancer of the uterus, twice the level in Western Europe. Patients have an 85 percent chance of recovery if the disease is treated in time.


And finally a quick look at Sunday´s weather. We´re expecting a hot and sunny day here in the Czech Republic, with daytime temperatures reaching up to 28 degrees Celsius, falling to lows of 11 degrees at night.

And that´s the end of the news.