News Thursday, OCTOBER 07th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first the news headlines.

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

Roma dismantle controversial wall in Usti nad Labem

In a continuing stand-off with the authorities, members of the Roma or gypsy community have dismantled part of a controversial wall currently being built to partition a street in the North Bohemian city of Usti nad Labem. Private house-dwellers on one side of the street had asked the local council to build a wall to protect them from noise and rubbish from apartment blocks opposite, which are inhabited largely by Roma rent-defaulters. The issue soon developed into an international scandal, with the Czech Republic being accused of fostering apartheid. The government warned the council not to go ahead with the plan, but the mayor of Usti defied the order and work began on Tuesday. Roma activists from towns throughout the country immediately blocked efforts to start construction. The sabotage is being observed by police officers. So far there have been no incidents.

Havel opens international Holocaust conference

President Vaclav Havel has opened an international conference on the Holocaust with a speech condemning Czech neo-Nazis. Mr Havel warned against forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust, and called for the Czech education system to do more to teach children the evils of the Nazi genocide against Jews, gypsies and the handicapped. The Czech President attacked the country´s neo-Nazi skinheads, saying they failed to realise that if the ideology to which they subscribe had succeeded, the Czechs as a nation would no longer exist. A leading member of the Roma community, Karel Holomek, told the conference that the Czech public were almost completely ignorant of the extermination of the Czech Roma during the Second World War.

South African Breweries announces bid for Czech beer giants

South African Breweries has announced a bid for the Czech Republic´s two largest breweries - Pilsner Urquell and Radegast, in a deal which would lead to the creation of the largest brewery group in Central Europe. South African Breweries initially wants to gain a 51 percent stake in the two breweries in a joint venture with the Japanese company Nomura, which presently holds a controlling share in them. The South African beer giant hopes to gain a 100 percent stake by the year 2001. The transaction first has to be approved by the Czech Office for Economic Competition.

Gregr withdraws nomination of Chinese ambassador for medal

The Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr has withdrawn a proposal to award the outgoing Chinese ambassador to Prague with a medal for services to the Czech Republic. The Order of the White Lion is awarded each year to foreigners who have made an outstanding contribution to the country. But Mr Gregr´s proposal was attacked by human rights groups, who criticise China for widespread human rights abuses and the occupation of Tibet. A foreign ministry spokesman said Mr Gregr´s proposal had caused a certain amount of surprise.

Hardline Communists protest at Gorbachev medal proposal

Meanwhile the leader of the hardline Party of Czechoslovak Communists, Miroslav Stepan, has protested against President Havel´s proposal to nominate the former Soviet leader Michail Gorbachev for the award. Mr Stepan described Mr Gorbachev as a "traitor to socialism." He went on to say the 1989 overthrow of communism, which he described as a counter-revolution, could only be commemorated by those who had profited through theft.

German police investigate former SS officer over Temelin executions

The state prosecutor´s office in the German town of Stuttgart are investigating a former SS officer accused of murdering seven Jewish inmates at the Terezin concentration camp in central Bohemia. The man, who is now 81 and living near Baden Wurttenburg, served as an instructor at an SS officer training school in the town of Litomerice, which is several kilometres away from Terezin. According to witnesses the accused shot dead seven inmates at the camp in 1945. The man denies the charges.


And we´ll end as usual with a quick look at Thursday´s weather. It will be another cloudy and cool day here in the Czech Republic, with the chance of showers in some parts of the country and the first snowfalls in the mountains. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 13 degrees Celsius, falling to a low of 3 degrees at night.

I´m Rob Cameron, and that's the end of the news.