News Thursday, MAY 14th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: May 14, 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

Good morning from Prague, I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.

These are the top Czech stories at this hour, I am Libor Kubik.

CZECH-POLITICS-FRAUD

The Civic Democratic Party of former Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus ignored donation disclosure laws and distorted its accounts. This according to an external audit released by the party on Wednesday.

The probe, conducted at ODS's request by Deloitte & Touche and made available to journalists, followed a funding scandal within the ODS that brought down Klaus's government last November and triggered an early election set for June.

The party said in releasing the audit that it would improve its internal financial control and pay anything due to public coffers. But the party insisted it had already paid its penalty by losing control of the government along with a chunk of its popular support.

CZECH-POLITICS-POLL

A Czech opinion poll released on Wednesday shows that support for the front-running Social Democrats is waning, while Vaclav Klaus's party has moved into second place just over a month before an early general election.

The survey conducted among just under 1,000 people early this month by the state-funded research agency IVVM also shows a marked jump in support for the Pensioners' Party. But none of the potential coalition combinations seems likely to secure a parliamentary majority in the June voting.

Twenty-three percent of those polled are still undecided, the IVVM says.

HAVEL-HEALTH

Czech President Vaclav Havel was released from hospital on Wednesday and taken to convalesce in his official holiday retreat at Lany Castle west of Prague.

His spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel would spend between one week and 10 days at Lany, whose public park would be off- limits for the period.

The president, who suffered a ruptured intestine and breathing problems while on a private holiday in Austria, had spent one month in hospital and undergone three surgeries.

Late this month, Havel will go to hospital again to have his colostomy bag removed.

CZECH-INDIA-NUCLEAR

India's ambassador to Prague was summoned by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday to be told that the Czech government is dismayed and concerned over the three underground nuclear test explosions India carried out on Monday.

India has since then exploded two more nuclear devices in the desert of Rajastan and said this completes the planned series of tests.

The Czech foreign ministry said this country supports global detente and endorses a global nuclear test ban treaty.

Foreign Ministry official Rudolf Hykl described the Indian move as being at variance with international treaties on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

REPS-HAVEL-SUE

The far-right Republicans said on Wednesday they are going to sue an unknown culprit over an incident last Saturday in which the party's leader Miroslav Sladek was physically attacked by Romanies at Novy Bor because of his alleged irreverent remarks about President Vaclav Havel.

Sladek was punched in the face by a Romany protester during an election rally .

Republican MP Jan Vik told Czech Radio that there had been no such remarks about Havel and the First Lady during the meeting.

As we reported earlier, President Havel has pardoned both Romany offenders even before criminal charges could be brought against them. His decision has been questioned by some politicians, including Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, as being hasty.

CZECH-CUBA-ENVOY

Cuba has delayed promoting the Czech diplomatic mission in Havana to embassy status. Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler says this may be because of the open-door policy pursued by Deputy Chief of Mission Petr Pribik, who has consistently provided a safe haven to Cuban opposition figures.

Winkler told CTK on Wednesday that the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro had refused to promote the Czech mission to an embassy after five years.

He said Cuba would prefer having a Czech envoy who would not be too much preoccupied with monitoring Havana's human rights record.

CZECH-POLISH-DEFENCE

Czech Defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz and the visiting Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek agreed in Prague on Wednesday that their countries have a shared responsibility for the further enlargement of the North Atlantic alliance.

The Czech Republic, together with Poland and Hungary, have been formally invited by NATO to negotiate their accession to the Washington Treaty -- NATO's founding document. The three states could become NATO members early next year.

Minister Lobkowicz told correspondents that they had discussed NATO's future extension to other East European and Baltic states, and had stressed the necessity of intensive cooperation with Slovakia.

CZECH-SENATE-BOSNIA

The Czech Senate on Wednesday approved the government's request for the Czech forces' mandate to serve with the multinational peace-keeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina to be extended by another 18 months.

The Czechs' current mandate expires on June 20. Defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz told the senators the Czech presence in Bosnia involved one army battalion with 650 servicemen.

The Czech unit has been operating in the British Sector together with peace-keepers from the United Kingdom and Canada.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, a look at the weather -- today will be a bit cooler than the past few days, with daytime temperatures ranging from 17 to 21 degrees, and around 11 degrees at the altitude of 1,000 metres.

An outlook for Friday and Saturday -- colder air will be pouring in from the northeast. The skies will be partly cloudy on both days, again with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Early morning lows between four and eight Celsius, daytime highs from 15 to 19 degrees.

And that's the end of the news.