News Thursday, JUNE 24th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.


Czech President Vaclav Havel on Thursday begins a four-day working tour of several countries, possibly including a brief visit to Kosovo.

The tour begins in Budapest and includes also visits to Austria and Albania. Post-war reconstruction of Kosovo will dominate Havel's agenda.

Analysts say his trip to the province could be hampered by the chaotic situation in Yugoslavia and thousands of Kosovo Albanians returning to Kosovo. In addition, the ruling Czech Social Democrats fear the trip could impair relations between Prague and Belgrade.


At a predawn meeting in Prague, the Czech cabinet approved the issue of two billion crowns' worth of state bonds to help solve the financial aspects of the Kosovo crisis.

The government is going to ask the lower house of parliament to speed up procedures necessary for this move to go ahead. The ministers also approved draft legislation on international sanctions designed to help maintain international peace and security.


Heavy rains in the past few days have hampered the harvest effort in many parts of Moravia in the eastern Czech Republic. Potato farmers complained on Wednesday they have only managed to retrieve some 70 percent of this year's planned potato harvest.

The rivers were subsiding on Wednesday in most parts of central and northern Moravia, where disastrous floods caused heavy damage and many casualties two years ago. But flood alert has not been called off, although experts don not expect the rivers to rise again.


A senior Austrian parliamentarian has caused uproar among Czech legislators by saying his country cannot approve the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union unless Prague ratifies an agreement on evaluating impacts on the environment.

Chairman of the parliamentary environment committee Karl Schweitzer said in Prague on Wednesday that government plans to go ahead with the completion of the controversial Czech nuclear power station in Temelin, South Bohemia, was a major obstacle to such approval.

Schweitzer has asked Czech members of parliament to press for an early signing of this agreement. He said Vienna expects Temelin to be tested for its likely impact on the environment.


Police in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland have busted an international child pornography ring and German police are holding two men aged 33 and 40 for abusing children.

A state prosecutor in Dresden said on Wednesday a number of suspects had been tracked down in the three countries and a large number of videos, pictures, journals and computer disks containing child pornography had been seized.

The ringleaders abused an undisclosed number of children aged three to 14 from the Czech Republic and the German state of Saxony over the last six years and produced and sold pornographic material.

The remaining suspects who are believed to have procured children or bought pornographic material are still free, though police did not disclose why.


In a weird incident on Wednesday, dozens of employees were denied access to a factory in Prague which builds carriages for the Prague Metro.

The industrial giant CKD Lokomotivka has lately gone into liquidation and a state-appointed caretaker administrator has unilaterally abrogated the company's lease.

Our correspondent says there were angry scenes outside the closed plant after workers were prevented from entering their shops and retrieving their personal effects. A protest rally is planned for Monday.

The firm's representatives said the seized assets included several Metro carriages and an electric locomotive which was due to be tested in Germany later this month.

The administrator said the company owed 15 to 20 million crowns in unpaid lease.


A Prague court has sentenced a leading Republican to a suspended three-year term in prison and a 10-year publishing ban for his racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

Tomas Kebza, an official of the ultra-right Republican Party and editor of its political weekly Republika, was found guilty of activities in support of racist movements. He has published in his magazine two articles against Jews.

The judge told him there was no doubt that Kebza had been spreading anti-Semitic propaganda of Nazi character.


The U.S. CME Corporation, the owners of the Czech Independent Television Company, which supplies programmes to private TV NOVA, has accused that station's dismissed boss Vladimir Zelezny of collusion with a leading bank in an effort to regain control of Nova and another commercial station, TV PRIMA.

CME's President Fred Klinkhammer said on Wednesday that his corporation was going to inform the National Broadcasting Council and the Parliamentary Media Commission of Zelezny's attempts to use IPB Bank as an auxiliary. The IPB has recently provided funding to a rival firm to supply Zelezny with programming.

Both Zelezny and the IPB have denied any wrongdoing.


Now this sad news from Bakersfield, California. Former Czech swimming champion Ondrej Bures died on Wednesday after he was hit by a car. He was 33.

Bures, who moved to California in the early nineties, established a Czech national record in 1997 in 200 metres butterfly stroke. He clocked 2 minutes 01.44 seconds and his record still holds.


Now for a look at the weather.

On Thursday, we expect a cloudy day with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

On Friday and Saturday, the Czech Republic will find itself under the impact of a slight high- pressure area. We expect only sporadic showers and daytime highs between 18 and 24 degrees.

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