News Sunday, MAY 24th, 1998

Jan Zach, Czech composer and organist, died 225 years ago today. Initially active in Prague, he left Bohemia to lead the orchestra of the Lord Elector of Mainz, Germany.

The lower house of the Czech parliament demands the sacking of the finance minister over his alleged mismanagement of privatisation and price deregulations.

Two construction workers die as a ceiling collapses in an older apartment house in Prague.

And a memorial to the victims of communism is unveiled in a town in eastern Bohemia.

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


The lower house of the Czech parliament approved a resolution at the weekend calling on Premier Josef Tosovsky to ask President Havel to sack Finance Minister Ivan Pilip.

The resolution, a gesture which does not carry any constitutional weight, was approved with 68 votes for and 52 against in the 200-seat lower house. There were many abstentions and several right-wing deputies were not present.

The move was proposed by the opposition Social Democrats, who have been unsatisfied with Pilip's handling of privatisation and housing and energy price deregulations.

Pilip is in a caretaker cabinet formed after the November collapse of a centre-right coalition government.

The Social Democrats pushed the request through less than a month before early general election called for June 19 and 20.


Two construction workers died and several other people suffered injuries when a ceiling collapsed in an older apartment house in Prague's Zizkov area on Friday. The building was under reconstruction but a demolition order has now been issued.

The body of the second victim was recovered on Saturday afternoon, after rescue teams spent all night long sifting through the rubble.

The first victim, a Slovak worker, died instantly on Friday. Police have begun investigation into the safety conditions on the site.


A memorial to all victims of communism was on Saturday unveiled in the eastern Bohemian city of Hradec Kralove.

The project was jointly sponsored and organised by the Czech Confederation of Political Prisoners and the City of Hradec Kralove.

The CPP stressed that up to 240,000 Czechs were jailed for their alleged anti-state activities in the period from 1948 to 1989.


An estimated 10,000 people on Saturday gathered at Brno Airport in Moravia to watch a series of flight displays by pilots of the Czech Air Force.

The air show, which runs through Sunday, features several Russian-built planes and helicopters of the cash-strapped air force.

The show was attended by Defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz and other defence officials.

The Czech Defence Ministry has recently been at the centre of media attention over several cases of corruption which the minister says appears to be quite widespread in the army.


The Czech royalist movement Koruna Ceska said on Saturday it had begun actively to search for a dynasty which would be fit to govern.

Koruna Ceska has been officially registered as a political movement since 1991. Its professed goal is to change the Czech state to a constitutional monarchy.


Cycling -- and the Czech Republic's Ondrej Sosenka on Saturday won the final time trial of the Tour de Danube stage race and secured himself an overall victory in this event.

His team-mate in the FOR 3 stable, Italy's Mauro Gerosa, placed second with only a four-second loss on the winning Czech.

And in sports-for-all, ex-premier Vaclav Klaus and former interior minister Jan Ruml, now two bitter rivals ahead of elections, were among thousands of people who on Saturday took part in the traditional walking race from Prague to the small town of Prcice. Both leaders staged election rallies upon arriving in Prcice Square.

The Prague-Prcice race has a long tradition, inspired by the Czech phrase "Jdi do Prcic", a very emphatic way of telling someone to walk away and come back no more.


Finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic. Saturday was a rather cold day, with scattered showers, some of them in the form of snow at higher altitudes. Daytime temperatures were from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius, nighttime lows from four to eight degrees.

An outlook for Sunday -- more of the same, unfortunately.

And that's the end of the news.