News Thursday, AUGUST 20th, 1998

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Radio Prague E news Date: August 20th, 1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start with a bulletin of domestic news:

Cabinet - vote of confidence

The Czech minority cabinet, comprised of Social democrat ministers, has won a vote of confidence from the lower house of the Czech parliament - the House of Deputies. Premier Zeman's government, installed last month, was widely expected to survive the vote thanks to a pact with ex-premier Vaclav Klaus's opposition Civic democratic party, the ODS. ODS deputies toed the party line and stayed outside the chamber for the vote, allowing the Social democrats to muster the necessary simple majority of those remaining in the house. However, Mr.Klaus and his party colleagues poured scorn on the government programme, calling it "propagandist and populist". The government's manifesto also received negative criticism from the two remaining centre-right parties, the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats, as well as from the communists, who all abstained from voting. After the vote, premier Milos Zeman promissed cooperation with all parties in parliament to get legislation passed. "I'd like to express the wish that on the basis of our common work there will be high-quality laws that help the citizens of this country," Zeman told the chamber.

Havel - health

President Vaclav Havel's state of health after intestinal surgery is satisfactory, according to the president's personal physician Ilja Kotik. Havel has been moved from the intensive care unit to the same standard hospital room he was in during his previous stays in Prague's Military Hospital. The president can speak and has been breathing on his own for some time, but his doctors have not yet decided when to remove the tracheotomy - a tube inserted into Havel's windpipe to facilitate his breathing. They predict, however, that president Havel will be able to go for a planned official visit to the United States in autumn.

Senate chairman in Moscow

Chairman of the upper house of the Czech parliament, Petr Pithart, will be received in Moscow by the Chairman of the Federation Council Yegor Stroyev. Chairman of the Czech Senate arrives on Thursday for a two day official visit in Moscow, where he will attend ventures organized by Russian intellectuals, commemorating the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. In Moscow, Pithart intends to demand opening Russian archives which hide materials important for the explanation of many historical events of the past five decades.

Thanks for 1968

The Czech ministry of Foreign affairs has offered thanks to all individuals, institutions and authorities in the democratic world who after the Soviet-led invasion in 1968, showed solidarity with the Czechoslovak people by providing them with both moral and material aid and offering them asylum abroad. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Monika Pajerova has delivered this statement to the CTK news agency.

Living standard - opinion poll

Almost half of the Czech citizens who were asked, 48 percent, think that they had lived better lives before the year 1989. This was shown in the results of an opinion-poll conducted in July by the Public Opinion Research Institute and published earlier this week. 78 percent of respondents noted a substantial increase in individual freedom since 1989, while 5 percent thought there was less. 57 percent of those asked responded by saying there is less social justice now than there was 9 years ago, while one fifth maintained it was on the same level.

And that's the end of the news.