News Thursday, APRIL 27th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

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


Most of the 13,000 employees of the largest Czech steelworks, the Nova Hut company in Ostrava, stopped work for one hour this morning in a warning strike.

The company is grappling with a severe lack of operating capital and the workers are pressing for government assistance.


Czech President Vaclav Havel is in Ljubljana for brief talks with his Slovenian opposite number Milan Kucan. Our correspondent says the two leaders will concentrate mainly on the post-World War II decrees under which most ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia after the defeat of the Axis aggression in 1945.

Our correspondent reports this issue is sensitive as some forces in Germany and Austria have made both countries' admission into the EU conditional on repealing the post-war decrees.


A German TV station reported late on Wednesday that German neonazis have established a foothold in the Czech Republic.

According to the public-service ZDF television, Germany's new fascists are closely working together with far-right Czech groups. The station said young extremists were receiving professional paramilitary training at a former army base north of Prague.

The station quoted a former Czech cabinet minister as describing his country as a "very racist state".


President Vaclav Havel has appointed two new ministers to Prime Minister Milos Zeman's Social Democrat cabinet.

Jaromir Schling replaced Transport Minister Antonin Peltram, and Petr Lachnit took over from Jaromir Cisar at the Ministry for Regional Development.

The changes complete the cabinet reshuffle announced in January as part of a power-sharing pact between the minority ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democratic Party.


The Czech government has approved the transfer of 300 million crowns to a foundation assisting the victims of the Holocaust.

Money will flow from the National Property Fund which guards the proceeds of privatisation programmes to the foundation administered by the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities.


President Havel says he will not order criminal proceedings stopped against the Civic Democrats' former treasurer who stands accused of a tax evasion in his party's five-year-old funding scandal. After less than two weeks, the trial of Mr. Libor Novak has now been adjourned till the start of June.

Mr. Havel told correspondents on Wednesday that to halt the procedures now or grant clemency would be a very bad political move.

A Social Democrat senator had earlier said he was planning to ask Havel to grant clemency to Novak only if he is convicted.

The funding scandal led to the collapse of Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus's government three years ago and later to a split of his party.


The Japanese investment bank Nomura has confirmed it is looking for a strategic new partner for the Czech Investicni a Postovni Bank, which it partly owns.

The IPB Supervisory Board on Wednesday elected its new chairman. He is Mr. Randall Dillard, who until now has been serving as a deputy chairman of the board.

Mr. Dillard has said negotiations with a new investor should be completed by September.


The Czech government has endorsed an amendment to advertising laws which would introduce complete ban on commercials on tobacco and limit the advertising of alcohol and medicines.

Government spokesman Libor Roucek says the bill also bans the use of hidden and subliminal advertising.


The Prague city council has named a small square in the city centre after the Czech writer Franz Kafka.

Councillor Jan Tomcik said on Wednesday that the square includes the building now occupying the site of the house in which the author of such modernist classics as "The Trial" and "The Castle" lived as a child.

The house was razed around the turn of the century during an urban redevelopment project. Kafka, the son of German Jewish parents, was born in Prague and is buried in the city. He died of tuberculosis 76 years ago.


Czech-born American tennis star Martina Navratilova will return to Wimbledon action in June looking for a record-equalling 20th title more than five years after retiring from professional tennis.

The 43-year-old former world number one will team up with South Africa's Mariaan de Swardt in the women's doubles. Nine-times singles champion Navratilova has won 19 Wimbledon titles, her last in the 1995 mixed doubles. Billie Jean King holds the record 20 titles.


And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Thursday will be a very warm day with only a few scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and with temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius, dropping to between eight and 12 degrees in the night.

The long weekend -- May Day is a state holiday in the Czech Republic -- will be very hot, with daytime highs ranging from 23 to 27 Celsius though we might get some thunderstorms. Night-time lows between eight and 13 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.