News Thursday, JUNE 04th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news Date: June 4th, 1998 Written/read by: Daniela Lazarova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail -

Election campaign kicks off

The 1998 general election campaign has now kicked off in the Czech Republic. While up to date campaigning was restricted to rallies and billboards, party election slots will now appear on radio and television. Some parties will use them exclusively for self-promotion the Freedom Union and Christian Democrats have made a bid for voter sympathy by devoting them to charities. Both public television and private TV NOVA have announced a series of election debates. In a related development the Central Election Committee has asked president Vaclav Havel to re-schedule or call off a planned appearance on TV NOVA 24 hours before polls open. Czech law prohibits campaigning 48 hours prior to voting and the committee assumes that President Havel would not resist imparting some voter advice.

EU integration plan approved

The Czech government has approved a comprehensive economics plan for the country's integration with the European Union. Government spokesman Petr Studenovsky said its approval would be viewed as a positive signal by the Union but he emphasized that the steps outlined would be linked to important economic decisions which it would be up to the post-election government to make.

Mlynar cries foul

Minorities minister Vladimir Mlynar has rejected the verdict of Parliament's secret service activities commission that he allegedly violated the law by asking the intelligence service to do a security check on a given firm. Mlynar, who requested the BIS to check out two pig-farm operators who stood in the way of his plans to remove a pig farm from the site of a former Romany Holocaust memorial, claims he had government approval for commissioning the service. The head of Parliament's secret service activities commission Jaroslav Basta told newsmen on Wednesday that Mlynar had no right to commission the service and that both he and BIS director Karel Vulterin had flagrantly violated the law in acting as they did. The Parliamentary commission is submitting its findings to the State Attorney's Office. Mlynar insists the BIS has been dragged into a dirty election campaign.

Mayor says no racism involved

The mayor of Usti, who has threatened to build a wall around a troubled Romany settlement, has rejected accusations of racism. In a letter to US congressman Christopher Smith, who blasted the Czech government for allowing such practices, mayor Ladislav Hruska said the wall was not meant to separate people of different races but "decent tenants from those that are not". Hruska has given the Romanies three months to show they can adhere to basic hygiene standards in the district, promising that if they do the money earmarked for the wall would be used to build facilities such as a children's playground.

Priests to serve in the military

The Church and military have signed an agreement on the role of priests in the army. The agreement was preceded by a tentative experimental phase during which Catholic and Protestant priests joined the Czech unit serving in Bosnia. This was deemed an unqualified success. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has described the agreement as an important milestone.

TUs part ways

Railworkers' unions have announced they are parting ways with the Confederation of Czech and Moravian trade unions. They consider the umbrella organization too weak and ineffectual in defending workers' needs and have accused it of mismanaging TU assets.

Prague Spring Festival over

The 53rd Prague Spring Music Festival ended yesterday in the traditional manner. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was conducted by the chief conductor of the Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Jiri Belohlavek. Since its opening, on May 12th, music lovers have been able to savour 57 concerts and 11 special theatre performances. The organizers note that audiences again confirmed Prague's preference for the classical and romantic repertoire. Concerts of present day composers drew less interest.

Finally the weather

Thursday should be overcast with intervals of sunshine, day temps between 21 and 26 degs C. Nighttime lows between 16 and 12 degs.