News Sunday, NOVEMBER 01th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news Date: 31.10.1998 Written/read by: David Vaughan

Hello and a warm welcome to the programme. I'm David Vaughan. First the headlines.

Those were the headlines. Now the news in more detail.

Flood Alert

Flood alerts are in force in many parts of the Czech Republic after several days of heavy rain. The situation is most serious in the upper reaches of the River Elbe near the East Bohemian town of Hradec Kralove, where the Elbe meets several smaller rivers. However in the southern and western parts of the country, including the Sumava region which saw flooding earlier this week, water levels have been falling. More rain is forecast for Sunday and on most rivers flood alerts remain in force. Forecasters remain optimistic that serious flooding, of the kind seen last year and earlier this year, is unlikely, and they say that the weather should improve by Monday.

Zeman Accuses

Prime Minister Milos Zeman has made serious allegations of past corruption at the Trade and Industry Ministry. He said he had evidence that some civil servants had in the past deliberately allowed coal imports far beyond the quotas permitted, seriously damaging the domestic mining industry. Mr Zeman made the claim during talks with miners' trade unions, which have themselves on several occasions claimed that import quotas were being exceeded. He promised a full investigation into the matter.

New Law on Secret Information

Czech legislation comes a step closer to NATO compatibility on Sunday, when a law comes into force specifying precisely how the country will define and deal with confidential information, considered essential to the country's security. The law is an important step towards joining the Alliance, not least because previous legislation blocked the sharing of important security information with the country's future partners. The law defines the role of the National Security Bureau, which will be the main organ charged with guaranteeing the protection of confidential information, supervising the conditions under which information is shared internationally, and keeping a precise record of individuals and institutions granted access to such information. The bureau will answer directly to the government.

Masaryk Memorial

A memorial plaque to the first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk has been unveiled in the South Bohemian town of Horni Dvoriste, in a ceremony to commemorate the foundation of Czechoslovakia eighty years ago this week. The town played a role in the foundation of the country, as it was Masaryk's first stop in his homeland on his return from exile in December 1918. The fate of an earlier plaque put up on the site in 1928 remains shrouded in mystery. One theory suggests that it was destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War, but some locals also claim it was buried at an unknown location just before the occupation.

Crown Jewels

Twenty-two thousand people have braved six-hour queues this week to see the Bohemian Crown Jewels, on show for the eighth time this century at Prague Castle. The priceless crown, orb and sceptre dating back to the 14th century will be locked up again on Sunday evening for another five years, but anyone who missed the opportunity will have a chance to see another exhibition of precious stones from the late mediaeval period, opening at the Castle on Tuesday. For those who don't mind second best the show will include replicas of the Crown Jewels themselves.

Weather

And we'll end with a look at the weather. Along with heavy rain, Friday and Saturday also saw the first snowfall in the Sumava Mountains - up to fifteen centimetres on higher ground. And the good - albeit somewhat unseasonal - news for skiers is that we can expect more snowfall in the mountains on Sunday. In the rest of the country it will be overcast with showers and temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius and strong, gusty winds. The showery weather looks set to stay with us on Monday and Tuesday.

And that's the end of the news.