News Thursday, MAY 04th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.


Russia's Ambassador to Prague Nikolai Ryabov has toned down his earlier remarks about Moscow being gravely concerned over the state of Czech-Russian relations, and has expressed interest in further Czech investment in his country.

After meeting Senate Chairwoman Libuse Benesova in Prague, Ambassador Ryabov said on Wednesday he was worried only by certain aspects, specifically by ailing economic and business ties and Prague's move to re-impose a visa requirement on Russian citizens.

But Ryabov had earlier said that mutual relations had assumed a confrontation-like character and that political dialogue between Prague and Moscow had stopped. Russian diplomats subsequently refused to comment on the ambassador's statements.


Austria's Ambassador Klas Daudlebsky has denied allegations that his government does not want to compensate Czech victims of Nazi slave labour. Czech diplomatic sources have criticised Austria for allegedly compensating victims from other nations more readily than Czechs.

Austria has said that funds are likely to be established to compensate all victims from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Hungary, while Czech victims may have to apply for compensation on an individual basis. A recent Austrian study concluded that Czech slave labourers were treated better than other nationalities during the war.


The Czech government has voted in favour of setting up a committee for intelligence activities which would coordinate intelligence-gathering services.

It is to be headed by Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who also holds the post of deputy prime minister responsible for the country's security and foreign policies.

Conceived as a permanent part of the National Security Council, the new committee replaces the existing Council for Intelligence Services.

The Czech Republic currently has four secret services -- two of them are military and two are civilian.


The speaker of the lower house of the Czech Parliament, Vaclav Klaus, has had talks in Budapest with Hungarian President Arpad Goencz.

Both statesmen described Czech-Hungarian relations as unproblematic and said they supported each other's bid to join the European Union.

The Hungarian president said that although each candidate country works hard to persuade the EU about its eligibility, these efforts should not be to the detriment of other nations seeking to join the union.


Ten Czech non-governmental organisations and civic groups have called on President Vaclav Havel to grant clemency to prisoners and defendants facing lighter indictments in a move to rehabilitate the little-used institution of alternative or suspended sentences.

The organisations said in a letter to Havel that two thirds of the Czech prison population are people sentenced to short terms of up to three months, and that Czech prisons are severely overcrowded.

Mr. Havel's spokesman said on Wednesday that the president would carefully study the request.

According to Justice Minister Otakar Motejl, the Czech Republic holds first place in Europe in terms of prison overcrowding.


The Czech crown reached a historic low against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday when it sold at over 40.8 to one dollar.

Financial experts said that if the currency stabilises at this level, one dollar will on Thursday buy just under 42 crowns. The crown's fall is ascribed to the declining euro, which today buys only 0.89 U.S. dollars.


Dozens of Czech veterans have marked the end of World War II 55 years ago at a meeting in the building of the Ministry of Defence in Prague, sponsored by the National Association of Freedom Fighters.

The organisation's chairman Jakub Cermin said historical fact had often been distorted and the role of many resistance figters had been diminished in the past due to their political beliefs which the communist regime found unacceptable.

Mr. Cermin said political persecution of many freedom fighters began instantly after the final defeat of the Axis aggression in 1945.


Police have begun investigating into a freak accident in which a teenage Czech athlete died after being hit by a hammer in a freak accident at a local meeting.

Her club said on Wednesday that Zuzana Krejcova was struck in the head and neck by the hammer which broke while being thrown by Czech number one Vladimir Maska in the northern town of Turnov on Monday.

The 18-year-old middle distance runner was hit as she sat about 10 metres outside the throwing zone. The athlete, who finished fifth in the Czech junior indoor 800 metres championship earlier this year, died of her injuries in hospital on Tuesday.


And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

After a rather chilly morning, Thursday will be a fairly acceptable day, weather-wise, with daytime highs between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius, dropping to between five and nine degrees at night.

Friday and Saturday will be also basically warm days, but with scattered showers. Nighttime lows between five and nine, daytime highs on Friday between 20 and 24, and on Saturday between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.

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