News Sunday, JULY 26th, 1998

These are the top Czech stories this hour, now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


Last Thursday's disastrous floods in eastern Bohemia claimed their seventh victim on Saturday. The man who drowned in the village of Destne in the Orlicke Mountains was identified on Saturday as a 73-year-old tourist from Prague.

Rivers have now returned back to normal but flood alert still remains in force following Thursday's torrential rains.

Thousands of people and several children's summer camps have been evacuated. Damage to roads, railways and property runs into tens of millions of crowns.

At least eight people are reported to have died in floods in neighbouring Poland.

Earlier this week, floods in eastern Slovakia killed several dozen people, and many others are still missing.

Last summer, extensive flooding killed more than 100 people in the eastern Czech Republic and southern Poland.


Czech President Vaclav Havel, in a pre-recorded interview on Czech Radio on Saturday, heavily criticised the s-called "opposition agreement" between the right-wing ODS party and the Social Democrats, which helped Milos Zeman's party to form a one-colour government.

Havel said the agreement was in fact a manual on swapping posts for influence, a nonstandard document with no equivalent elsewhere in the world.

He said he was prepared to fight its potentially devastating political impact.


Austrian surgeon Ernst Bodner arrived in Prague on Saturday to operate on President Havel.

The president will undergo surgery at Prague's Military Hospital to remove a bag bridging a gap in his intestine that was inserted after emergency surgery to remove about 30 cm of his large intestine in April while on vacation in Austria.

No date for the operation has been set but sources from Havel's medical team say Sunday or Monday are likely dates.

Havel has spent most of his time since returning to the Czech Republic recovering at a presidential villa west of Prague. But despite being restricted by the illness, he has been fit enough to play an active role in the formation of a new government following a June election.

On Wednesday, the president swore in the new centre-left Social Democrat cabinet of Prime Minister Milos Zeman, as well as appointing outgoing premier Josef Tosovsky as central bank governor and Eliska Wagnerova as chief justice of the Supreme Court.


Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek denied rumours on Saturday that the presidential team is in possession of a secret report on the disastrous state of the Czech economy, which predicts an early collapse of the new Social Democratic government of Premier Milos Zeman.

The left-wing daily Pravo wrote in its latest issue that a classified report, ascribed to the main opposition Civic Democratic Party, forecasts an early abrogation of the agreement by which the right-wing ODS of former premier Vaclav Klaus effectively enabled to Social Democrats to form a one- party minority government.

The ODS categorically denied the PRAVO report and said that any such document -- if it exists -- must be a fake.

The analysis reportedly predicts a dramatic slump in economic performance, an unprecedented increase of unemployment, and the collapse of many smaller businesses.


Hundreds of thousands of Prague residents found themselves without electricity for up to 90 minutes early on Saturday in a massive blackout which affected large parts of the city.

The blackout, caused by an as yet unexplained defect of a power installation in eastern Prague, sent Czech Radio and the Prague-based Radio Free Europe off the air for at least an hour.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused to Radio Prague's listeners worldwide.


Dozens of students of the Czech language from almost 30 countries assembled in Brno on saturday at the start of the 31st Summer School of Slavonic Studies.

The intensive course, organised by the Philosophical Faculty of Brno's Masaryk University, runs through August 21.

Students have come from the United States, Japan, Iraq, Cameroon, Pakistan, Ukraine and other countries. The oldest participant is 68, the three youngest students are under 18.


A look at Sunday's weather -- we are facing a warm but also wet day with scattered thunderstorms throughout the Czech Republic, especially in its eastern parts.

Daytime highs from 23 to 28 degrees Celsius, nighttime lows between 11 and 15 degrees.

And that's the end of the news.