News Tuesday, AUGUST 17th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first lets take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague, those were the headlines, now lets take a look at the news in more detail...

ODS - Elections

Leader of the ODS Party Vaclav Klaus told journalists on Monday afternoon, that he is certain he can come to an agreement with Premier Milos Zeman on changing the electoral laws in the Czech republic.

The two strongest parties have said in the past that although they are satisfied with the agreement they signed last year, enabling them to rule together, their views differ as to how future elections should be held.

Neither party can agree on the number of MPs or constituencies and while an ODS commission has already met once to try to resolve the issue, it did not find a solution. Vaclav Klaus denied on Monday, that his desire to change the law stems from personal ambition. He believes it is in the interests of civic freedom that the winning party be able to form a majority government. Smaller parties have already voiced their fears that this system would effectively push them out the picture.

Germany - Minimum spending

The German embassy in Prague said on Monday afternoon, that its government would not be introducing a minimum amount of spending money for Czech visiting the country. This announcement came amid concern that Germany would introduce this measure after a group of Czech Romanies were not allowed across the border on Saturday. Over the weekend, German border guards decided that the group did not have enough money and turned them back. The Embassy released a statement stating that tourists should have what it called "adequate funds". This should be around 50 to 100 Deutsch marks a day.

Communism crimes - Koudelka statement

A Social democrat MP Zdenek Koudelka, said on Monday afternoon, that the Office of Documentation and Investigation into the crimes of communism should be abolished. He said the bureau has proved ineffective and costly.

This comes after several other MPs have criticised it, and an opinion poll at the beginning of the year shown that fifty percent of people asked thought it had poor results. Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich is expected to deliver a verdict on the future of the institution by the end of August. The Office of Documentation and Investigation into the crimes of communism was established in 1995. Of over two thousand cases more than six hundred still remain unsolved.

In the meantime, a civic association has sprung up calling itself, the Independent Institute for the documentation of Communist totalitarianism. This group aims to investigate cases of collaboration, the results of which will be printed in the national papers and allow the public access to archive documents.

ODS - Budget

Following a meeting of the ODS leadership on Monday afternoon, party officials expressed their concern over the state of the economy. They said they were shocked at the proposal for next years state budget, which according to them, does not sufficiently restrict the political activities of the Czech National bank. As a concrete example, leader of the opposition Vaclav Klaus referred to the growing unemployment rate, which he said was likely to increase from 8.8 to 11.6 percent.

Zeman - Lawsuit

A Prague journalists says that over the next few days he will be suing Premier Milos Zeman for defamation. Ivan Brezina says Mr Zemans statements that he was paid by the power giant CEZ to write biased articles, are untrue.

The Director of CEZ says this is a misunderstanding and alleges that the company only copied some of the journalists articles from the Reflex magazine. Mr Brezina says he will be suing for damages of up to 300 000 Czech crowns and will demand a public apology in the best selling Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes.

Wine - Theft

A curious case of theft has been reported by a man in Karlovy Vary. He called police on Monday after he discovered that 9000 litres of wine had been stolen from his wine cellar in southern Moravia. Detectives said that although there has been a spate of wine thefts recently, no-one has been able to work out how the thieves physically managed to steal so much.

Living - survey

A recent survey has revealed that over fifty percent of Czechs are satisfied with their standard of living. Forty percent, however, said their standard of living is bad and six percent said theirs was even worse. The survey revealed that those who were satisfied were businessmen or university graduates. People who said they were dissatisfied were pensioners, blue collar workers and young mothers.

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

Tuesday will see a cloudy start to the day, with scattered showers and temperatures of about 19 degrees celsius. This should improve as the day continues, cooling down again during the night, as temperatures drop to as low as 11 degrees celsius.

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