News Tuesday, AUGUST 04th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Date: 4.8.98 Written / Read by: Pauline Newman

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman. First let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Havel / Operation

Doctors say Czech President Vaclav Havel's condition is stable after his operation. Surgeons performed a tracheotomy on Mr Havel on Monday, in order to ease his breathing. The tracheotomy, which is an incision in the windpipe, was expected to improve Havel's severe breathing difficulties, after the partial collapse of his lungs overnight.

In a statement, doctors said the right lobe of the President's lungs collapsed, requiring the tracheotomy to sustain his recovery from intestinal surgery performed nine days ago.

The lung collapse had been accompanied by a fever, and the medical team decided to perform the tracheotomy after other treatments failed to open his breathing passage. The operation allows a respirator to deliver oxygen directly to the body through the throat, but also permits the patient to eat and drink normally.

The President was put into a deep artificial sleep for twenty four hours after the operation. His doctor Ilja Kotik told journalists on Monday evening that Vaclav Havel's temperature was back to normal.

This was the second time this year, that the 61 year old Czech President has needed a tracheotomy while recovering from intestinal surgery.

Doctors have yet to say when Mr Havel whose duties are more ceremonial than executive may leave hospital.

Floods / Money

The Ministries of the Interior and Defence have informed the government that they will need 14 and 24 million crowns respectively for their work in the flood-hit areas of eastern Bohemia.

The Finance Ministry which has to come up with the money, announced on Monday that it will have to look for funds beyond the state budget. This was the main outcome of the meeting held by the governmental emergency flood committee on Monday. Final estimates of the damage caused, will be known by the 12th August.

Czech defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy said on Monday that the situation in the flood stricken regions of eastern Bohemia has now been stabilised. He was speaking after inspecting the clean up operations, being carried out by Czech soldiers.

Vetchy told journalists, that the military is now concentrating on rebuilding river beds, reinforcing the banks, supplying drinking water and draining cellars and basements. He added that he is in constant contact with the ministry of the Interior and the Environment, who are keeping him up to date with events.

Eastern Bohemia was hit by catastrophic flooding over ten days ago, damage has so far been estimated at one and a half billion crowns.

Investigation / Police

The Interior Ministry announced on Monday that it intends to re- investigate police behaviour during the Prague riots in May.

A spokesman said it is possible that the police broke the law in their treatment of people they arrested during the Global Street Party, which escalated into a demonstration.

The former government of Josef Tosovsky, closed the investigation in July, saying that human rights had not been violated. However, on the occasion of Otakar Motejl, the new Justice Minister being sworn in on Monday, Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky told journalists that the case will be re-opened.

There have been many accusations levelled against the police that they were far too brutal in their treatment of people during and after the riots.

Opinions / Election system

Political opinion on possible changes to the Czech system of election to the lower house of Parliament is divided.

The issue of whether or not the system should be changed, was revived over the weekend, during a televised debate between Premier Milos Zeman and Head of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, Petr Pithart.

The new changes involve a majority system, of a 100 constituencies and two leading candidates. A special commission set up by Zeman's Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party the ODS, will try to change the Constitution to bring in these changes. In the meantime both the ODS and the Social Democrats are divided as to the usefulness of the idea.

Other parties have said that the change is simply a means by which the ODS and the Social Democrats wish to strengthen their political power.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

A ridge of high pressure moving over the Czech Republic on Tuesday, means we are in for some nice sunny weather. Temperatures during the day will reach 31 degrees celsius in eastern parts of the Republic. Peaking at about 28 degrees celsius over Prague.

This might not last all day, however, since there is a danger of rain or even more thunderstorms towards the evening.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.