News Tuesday, JUNE 27th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the program with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

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


Czech President Vaclav Havel has vetoed a controversial amendment to electoral laws, setting up an expected showdown with party leaders in the constitutional court.

The law, intended to give larger parties more power, was drafted by the ruling Social Democrats and leading opposition Civic Democrats.

It aims to curb the influence of smaller parties by awarding more seats to the top parties in lower house elections.

President Havel, who is not in a political party, said in a statement that he had fundamental objections to the law which he said violates the country's electoral system.

A presidential veto of the measure can be overcome by a simple majority of all members of the 200-seat lower house.


The number of Slovak nationals seeking asylum in the Czech Republic rose to 170 last weekend. Czech Television reports that most of them are Romanies citing mostly racial and economic reasons.

The television said that over 300 Slovaks had asked for asylum this year. An interior ministry official was quoted as saying all of them had entered the Czech Republic legally and their applications were being processed. The official said, however, that it was difficult to predict how many applications would be treated favourably.


The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has admitted that the 20-billion-crown government-budget deficit, which his government has pledged to maintain after an agreement with the ruling Social Democrats' power-sharing partners, the Civic Democrats could be much higher.

He said problems like the ailing IPB bank and this year's severe drought could make it difficult for his government to maintain a low deficit.

But he said a higher GDP growth than planned could help alleviate the budgetary problem.


A commission of inquiry set up by the Czech Ministry of the Interior says the storming of the ailing IPB bank by armed police commandos earlier this month was a perfectly legal move.

Armed and masked police entered the IPB headquarters a few days ago to protect the bank's new administrator. Within 36 hours of the incident, IPB was taken over by another Czech bank, the CSOB. The opposition has described the move as suspicious, has spoken of a collusion, and asked for a parliamentary commission to investigate the incident.

Prague's Attorney General Karel Bruckler said on Monday he had forwarded the interior ministry findings to a district investigator.


Czech doctors from President Vaclav Havel's medical team have thrown their weight in support of their Slovak colleagues treating that country's ailing President Rudolf Schuster. Doctors treating Mr. Schuster have been accused of poor performance and a private TV station has even reported that the Slovak head of state is dead.

Mr. Schuster remained critically ill on Tuesday with double pneumonia after undergoing two emergency intestinal operations last week. The Austrian surgeon Ernst Bodner described his condition as very serious.

Professor Bodner, who has also operated on Czech President Havel said he had been called last week from Bratislava and had offered his assistance. But he said on Monday he did not think the Slovak president could undergo surgery now, given his critical condition.


The Czech national flag carrier CSA was forced to cancel its three scheduled flights from Prague to Paris on Monday owing to a strike by French air traffic controllers. The airline reported no problems as all these flights had been rebooked in advance.

But the airline's spokesman said another three chartered CSA flights from Paris had taken place as it was possible to dispatch them before the strike began.

Air France cancelled all its six scheduled flights to Prague on Monday.


The Czech cabinet has given guarantees for a four-billion-crown loan for the purchase of tilting-body express trains for the state-owned company Czech Rail.

The Transport and Communications Minister Jaromir Schling told a news conference on Monday that the exact sum to be guaranteed by the government would be specified after talks with a consortium of train producers.

Czech Rail is supposed to acquire seven advanced express trains from the consortium of the firms Fiat, Siemens and the domestic CKD. The contract would be worth nearly 4.5 billion Czech crowns.


And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Tuesday will be an unseasonably cold day here in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs only between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius, scattered showers and nighttime lows between five and nine degrees.

Wednesday will be also a cold day, with maximum temperatures not exceeding 20 degrees Celsius, dropping to an early-spring-like four to eight degrees at night.

Thursday should see a turn for the better, although we may again expect scattered showers all across the country. Daytime highs between 17 and 21 Celsius, nighttime lows between six and ten degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.