News Thursday, DECEMBER 31st, 1998

Radio Prague E-News Date: 31 December 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

Welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail.


The danger of contamination of Prague's drinking water has now been averted. The Zeliv water reservoir in eastern Bohemia, which supplies drinking water to parts of the Czech capital, was contaminated early on Wednesday by brown-coal tar leaks from a Pelhrimov-based firm.

Works to eliminate the effects are still under way but experts now say any contamination of drinking water is very unlikely.

Waterworks officials said any contamination of Prague's drinking water would be safely dealt with by chemical process.


Czech President Vaclav Havel and the First Lady, who are vacationing in the Canary Islands, have announced they will celebrate the new year in a typically Czech way, albeit in strict privacy.

President Havel, who is recuperating from a year of health problems, is staying with his wife Dagmar in the King of Spain's La Mareta residence on Lanzarote Island.

The president is rehabilitating and reportedly doing well in the mild Atlantic climate, with temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius, too cold, perhaps, to swim in the sea.

The Havels will return to Prague some time after January 10.

His prerecorded speech to the nation, marking the new year, will be broadcast on public service radio and television on January 1.

[We will bring you the highlights in our programmes on the same day.]


This year's state budget deficit will amount to 25,000 million crowns.

Eduard Janota from the Czech Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday that this figure was final. He said the deficit had been caused mainly by non-performing debts which forced the current and the previous cabinets to spend more than expected.

Our correspondent says that last month's figured indicated a 2,000 million crown budgetary surplus.


The Czech Telecom is rising local call prices by about 26 percent as of January 1.

The company's spokeswoman Dana Dvorakova said on Wednesday that a local call would now cost two crowns 60 hellers, and the length of a unit would be reduced to two minutes during the peak hours and four minutes in off-peak hours.

The monthly licence fee will increase to 135 crowns.


The 1998 Czech highway stamps remain valid till the end of January, according to Police spokeswoman Ivana Moosova.

She said on Wednesday that windshield highway stickers for 1999, which have been valid for one month now, must be used as of February 1. A failure to do so carries the fine of between 1,000 and 5,000 crowns.

Last year's stickers must be removed from ther windshields by the same date.


Prague police are posting 130 officers to enforce public law and order in downtown Prague during the New Year celebrations. In the past, the city centre has always been littered by broken glass and other residues of the end-of-the-year revelry.

Most of the historical city centre will be off-limits for motor vehicles and the sale of alcohol from makeshift stalls will be prohibited, the police said on Wednesday.


The Czech National Bank is converting about two thirds of its assets to the single new European currency, the euro.

The operation, involving more than 8,000 million U.S. dollars, will take place at the weekend.


Talking about money, some guys have all the luck. The thieves who on Monday morning made off with three million crowns in cash from Prague's President Casino are still at large in spite of a massive search operation mounted by the Prague police.

A masked gunman entered the downtown casino early on Monday. In the hold-up, one employee was manacled to a bar while his colleague was made to give out banknotes of various denominations amounting to three million crowns.


In a few hours' time, we will ring out the old year and ring in the new. But what about the moaning after? Well, here's a free advice how to avoid the ringing in your head, supposing you will have one glass too many.

A Radio Prague expert, who wished to remain in obscurity, says the cure is quite simple: mineral water, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Or, alternatively, try a combination of mint and herb tea.

My tried and proven recipe is garlic soup, salted herring, and a stein of beer. And everything will find its own level!

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.