News Tuesday, APRIL 21st, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News date: April 21, 1998, 0700 UTC written/read by: Libor Kubik

These are the top stories from Prague, I am Libor Kubik, now the news in more detail.

HAVEL-HEALTH

Czech President Vaclav Havel, suffering breathing complications after emergency surgery on his intestine, is improving at the Innsbruck University Hospital in Austria. His doctors said on Monday he would be weaned out of an artificial sleep, because his condition was stable.

A medical board here in Prague has described Havel's condition as serious but not critical.

The 61-year-old president underwent endoscopic surgery on Saturday, after a build-up of mucus prevented him receiving enough air.

Havel's chief doctor in Innsbruck, Professor Ernst Bodner, told reporters on Monday that the goal for the next few days was for the president to gradually breathe on his own without support.

Surgeons removed about 12 inches of Havel's intestine in an emergency operation last Tuesday after he became ill while on holiday with his wife Dagmar in the Tyrolean Alps.

CZECH-ELECTION-POLL

Support for the Czech Social Democrats, tipped to win an early election in June, dropped in early April while a potential centre-right coalition edged closer to majority support.

A poll released on Monday by the private agency STEM showed support for the Social Democrats falling to under 24 percent of the potential electorate, down from almost 30 percent in March.

When combined with potential partners in a centre-left coalition, the Social Democrats would still be well short of a majority in the powerful lower house.

The poll also showed that if a potential centre-right coalition were formed, it would fall just short of a majority with 97 seats in the 200-seat lower house of parliament.

CZECH-LITHUANIA

Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy voiced support on Monday for Lithuania's bid to become a member of both NATO and the European Union.

Sedivy, who is on a two-day visit to Vilnius, said after a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Algirdas Saudargas that NATO should not forget the Baltic countries.

Praising NATO's declaration of an open-door policy, Sedivy said that "we all belong to Europe" and for this reason, the Czech Republic is especially interested in Lithuania also joining these organisations.

He said Lithuania could benefit from the Czech experience in membership negotiations with NATO and the EU.

The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are the first three East European nations invited to join NATO. And late last month, the EU foreign ministers began fast-track membership negotiations with these three states, Estonia, Slovenia and Cyprus.

CZECH-CHINA-DISSIDENT

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the release of a leading Chinese dissident, Wang Dan, from prison. In a statement released on Monday, the ministry expressed hope that the decision to free Wang is not an isolated gesture.

According to the statement, the ministry hopes that the release may signal a change of attitude in Beijing to people who have alternative views on human rights and the respect for them in China.

Twenty-nine-year-old Wang Dan, a former student leader in the 1989 Tienanmen Square democracy movement, has arrived in the United States for medical checks.

CZECH-SOCCER-SCORES

Football -- and Sparta Prague moved a step closer to a second consecutive Czech League title by beating Kaucuk Opava 2-0 at the weekend to remain 13 points clear of their traditional rivals Slavia Prague.

With six games remaining, Sparta could clinch the title with a win over Boby Brno on Sunday.

Slavia kept their fading hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen, while the race for European berths hotted up as Sigma Olomouc, Banik Ostrava and Slovan Liberec all won at the weekend.

Slavia, on 45 points, are almost assured of a spot but Olomouc, Ostrava and Liberec face a battle for the final place.

CZECH-WEATHER

Tuesday's weather -- we expect an initially clear day with some scattered rain showers in the afternoon. The highest daytime temperatures will be from 11 to 15 degrees Celsius, and around six above zero in the mountains, at the altitude of 1000 metres.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Czech Republic will be caught between a high pressure area over Finland and a low pressure area over the Balkans. We expect a cloudy weather on both days, with occasional showers and the odd thunderstorm. Both mornings will be foggy, and the afternoon highs will be between 12 and 16 Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.