News Tuesday, MAY 25th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I´m Rob Cameron, first a look at the news headlines.

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

CKD workers demonstrate over lack of wages

Almost one thousand employees of the ÈKD transport manufacturers gathered outside the headquarters of the company in Prague today to protest at a second month without wages. Employees of the company, which produces trams and metro carriages, were last paid in March, and say they have been forced to use their savings to feed their families. ÈKD, which employs more than two thousand people, is currently experiencing severe financial problems and is negotiating with the government to find a way out of the crisis.

Police break up illegal arms gang

Police have broken up two gangs dealing in the illegal sale of firearms. A total of ten people, including one woman, were arrested, and officers seized a large cache of ammunition and weapons, including rifles, machine guns and grenades. The ten have been charged with illegal possession of firearms and theft.

Czech Republic and Greece to submit Kosovo peace plan to NATO

The Czech Republic and Greece are due to present a joint peace initiative for Kosovo to NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday. The plan is reported to be similar to a resolution by the UN Security Council, but is said to include a provision calling for a temporary halt to NATO´s bombing of Yugoslavia. This is designed to win Russian approval and allow Belgrade to begin withdrawing troops from the province. However the plan has been criticised both at home in the Czech Republic and abroad. The Czech Republic´s ambassador to NATO, Karel Kovanda, said last week that he doubted the plan would gain consensus among NATO´s 19 member countries. Critics say an appeal from two NATO members calling for a halt to the bombing would undermine NATO´s operation and play into the hands of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Public support in the Czech Republic for NATO´s operation in Yugoslavia is among the lowest in the nineteen member countries.

Public support for NATO membership falling

A new opinion poll released on Monday shows support for the Czech Republic´s membership of NATO falling slightly. The poll, by the Institute for Public Opinion Research, shows support for NATO membership at 46 percent, down slightly on a poll taken in April. The number of people against membership has also risen slightly to 41 percent.

Havel to leave hospital in days

President Vaclav Havel, who was admitted to hospital last week with bronchitis, has shown considerable improvement and may be able to go home later in the week. Havel´s personal doctor Ilja Kotik said on Monday that the 62-year-old president, who has suffered a number of serious illnesses in recent years, no longer had a fever, and that antibiotics to treat the bronchitis were proving effective. Kotik said doctors would decide in two or three days when the president could be released for further treatment at home. Havel, a former chain smoker, contracted pneumonia last summer after undergoing abdominal surgery.

Skinheads charged for attack on Vietnamese

A group of eight skinheads have been charged with attacking three Vietnamese customers in a restaurant in east Bohemia. They were arrested and charged with assault following an incident in the town of Havlickuv Brod on Saturday. The skinheads, aged between 16 and 27, are said to have hurled racist abuse at the three Vietnamese before attacking them. Police are also investigating an incident on the same day in the west Bohemian city of Plzen, in which skinheads are reported to have attacked a group of Romanies, one of whom suffered a broken arm. There are believed to be some 5,000 skinheads in the Czech Republic, many of whom belong to organised neo-Nazi groups. Czech human rights groups say almost thirty people, mostly Romanies and foreigners, have been killed in incidents involving skinheads in the ten years since the fall of communism.


Finally a look at Wednesday´s weather, and it will be clear throughout most of the country, although with some cloud and occasional showers in places. Temperatures will reach a high of 22 degrees Celsius in the daytime, which is slightly cooler than the last few days.

That brings us to the end of the news.