News Thursday, DECEMBER 02th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Jana Kotalik. We begin as usual with a look at the main news headlines:

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


Prime Minister Milos Zeman told Czech President Vaclav Havel at a Wednesday evening meeting that his health minister Ivan David will resign. Prime Minister Zeman announced that he expects David to hand in his resignation by next week. Zeman stressed that Minister David is leaving his post voluntarily. David is to make a statement about his planned resignation at a meeting of the Social Democrats on Thursday. The Minister has been widely criticized in recent weeks by employees of the health service, opposition parties in parliament and even within his own Social Democrat Party. David is the second government minister to resign this week: Deputy Prime Minister Egon Lansky stepped down on Monday.


The news of David's planned resignation has been received highly positively by Czech politicians. President Havel said that he was pleased the resignation came earlier rather than later because the situation was no longer tenable. Member of the opposition Freedom Union Vaclav Krasa said that the Health Ministry is in dire need of consolidation. And deputy chairwoman of the Lower House Petra Buzkova - from David's own Social Democrat party - has said that his resignation is a highly positive development, adding that he should have stepped down long ago.


Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, a bomb went off in the office of the Confederation of Political Prisoners in the north Moravian city of Prerov. No one was hurt in the blast which occurred after a bomb went off just outside the window of the building in downtown Prerov. Police are investigating possible motives for the violence which head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners says is linked to the anti-communist activities of their organization. This is the third bomb explosion in Prerov over the past year. Police have not ruled out the possibility that the explosions may be linked and might be politically motivated.


Czech miners continued in their strike on Thursday at a coal mine near the northern town of Most in protest against the closure of the pit. Another 8 miners joined the original 180 employees who began their strike on Wednesday. They have refused to leave the mine until the government and Mostecka Uhelna Spolecnost - the company that decided to close the pit last August give them some guarantee the pit may be sold to another company which would keep extraction running. The planned lay-offs would cost some 300 jobs in the region with the highest unemployment rate in the Czech Republic.


More than 3000 Czechs have signed a petition in protest of the continuing violence against the civilian population in Chechnya. The petition which strongly condemns what it calls "Russia's arrogant policy and disrespect of human rights in the region" will be handed over to the Czech President, government and parliament in an attempt to elicit official condemnation of Russia's policy in Chechnya from Czech top officials. A demonstration is also planned outside the Russian embassy in Prague on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.


And we end with a brief look at the weather in the Czech Republic. We expect mainly cloudy skies today with occasional showers. Daytime temperatures will range from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.

I'm Jana Kotalik and that's the end of the news.