News Thursday, AUGUST 27th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 27.8.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman first a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Government plans / opposition

Czech opposition parties have criticised government plans to introduce personnel changes to state bodies and companies. Members of the Christian Democrats, the Freedom Union and the Communist party slammed the latest Social Democrat plans to bring about far reaching personnel re-shuffles. It was widely agreed on Wednesday, that the current government is following in the ill-fated footsteps of its ODS predecessor. An economist from the Christian Democrat party, said on Wednesday, that these plans are a bad idea, if they are aimed at intensifying the Social Democrat grip on politics and the economy.

Former Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus also criticised the plans, although a party spokesman said this was not a good enough reason to cancel the post-election agreement signed between the ODS and the Social Democrats.

The secret material, which the new government approved on the fifth August and put forward by Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky does not mention how the checks on companies will actually be carried out. All that is known so far is that the Security Service, the BIS, will be involved and that some 35 companies will be affected. It calls for checks on the activities of directors of various state bodies. According to the results of these checks, some directors will be sacked.

Observers and opposition politicians have labelled this directive which was first mentioned in Tuesday's national press, and officially revealed on Wednsday, "interventionist" and say it could make privatisation of some companies more difficult in the future.

RFE / Protest

The Press department of the Iranian Embassy released a statement on Wednesday, saying that Radio Free Europe's planned broadcasts to Iran and Iraq are a violation of friendly ties with the Czech Republic and a sign that Prague is unnecessarily involving itself in internal Iranian affairs.

The governments of Iran and Iraq have both made it clear that they do not want RFE to broadcast to their countries.

In the meantime, observers say there is a danger of terrorist attacks on the RFE building in Prague, which is a villa, located in a residential area.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Czech Premier Milos Zeman, said that the Radio Station should really have discussed its broadcasting plans with the government.

Earlier in the week, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan described this as: "an extremely sensitive issue". He also noted that the Czech government had not even received an official request to approve the planned broadcasts.

Miracle / Hearing

A court in Prague continued its hearing on Wednesday, into a controversial case dating back to 1950, during which a priest was tortured to death by Ladislav Macha, a member of the secret police the StB.

The priest who was arrested for allegedly faking a miracle, died in hospital as a result of his interrogation. Macha stands accused of causing grievous bodily harm and abusing his position within the police force.

The hearing is being held behind closed doors, because the court is looking at controversial material which has been released for the first time. Everyone who has had access to the documents has had to take an oath of secrecy.

During the Father Toufar's sermon in 1949, a cross in the local church in southern Bohemia moved several times by itself. This was hailed as a miracle by the congregation. Although the case remains unexplained, it is thought that the secret police actually made the cross move, in order to hold a public investigation into the activities of the clergy.

Other priests were later arrested and also questioned. One of them who is still alive today, Vit Tajovsky, is one of the main defence witnesses. He told the court on Wednesday that from his prison cell, he heard Father Toufar calling out for mercy and protesting his innocence.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Thursday should be another fairly cool day, with temperatures peaking at about 15 degrees celsius. There is also the possibility of rain later in the day, with night time temperatures dropping to as low as eight degrees celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.