News Tuesday, NOVEMBER 07th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

Czech PM says partial blockade removal not enough

Three of 15 border crossings between Austria and the Czech Republic are still being blockaded by Austrian anti-nuclear activists protesting against the Czech nuclear plant at Temelin near the Austrian border.

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has warned Austria that partial removal of border blockades staged over the disputed Temelin nuclear power plant was not enough and threatened to break off talks on this matter.

Opposition leader Vaclav Klaus threw his weight in support of the prime minister's position.

Austria fears that the plant, located just 50 km from its border, is unsafe and has called for safety and environmental-impact studies.

Czechs believe EU report will show improvement

Observers in Prague say the EU should give the Czech Republic vastly improved marks for economic and legislative reforms. The European Union's annual report on readiness is due to be released on Wednesday. They say, however, that the country still lags in legal and environmental issues.

The EU harshly criticised Prague in its two latest reports for lagging on legislative reforms, sluggish economic restructuring, corrupt capital markets and dismal human rights towards its sizeable Roma minority.

But officials say that with 80 to 90 percent of the legislative changes requested having been implemented, and the economy moving after treading water in the past few years, the Czechs will solidify their position as a leading membership candidate.

Just a couple dozen hours before the EU report was due, several Czech NGOs have called for more space for civil society and accused political parties of not giving them enough room.

Manhunt for contract killer continues

Police have continued their nationwide hunt for a contract killer who broke out from a maximum security prison more than one week ago.

Police have appealed to the public to help them hunt down the ruthless killer, saying they have discovered Mr Kajinek's traces in the vicinity of the prison.

Mr Jiri Kajinek had been serving a life sentence for the contract killings of a businessman and his bodyguard seven years ago. Until his daring escape, the Mirov prison in the town of Sumperk had been dubbed the Czech Altacraz. The prison's director has been replaced.

DPA: Drugs use on the rise among young Czechs

The German news agency DPA has reported in a dispatch from Prague that for many young people, the city is the "Amsterdam of the East". It said marijuana and cannabis were smoked in clubs, bars and even in broad daylight with little police interference.

The report quoted Czech sources as saying that since 1995, drug consumption in the Czech Republic has trebled, and the number of drug offences has risen considerably.

Police in 1990 recorded only 140 drugs cases. Last year, the figure rose to over 2,600, the agency reported.

Soccer - Berger expected to be out for months

Football -- and Liverpool's Czech midfielder Patrik Berger is likely to miss most of the season after a recurrence of a knee injury at the weekend.

Liverpool said on Monday that Berger, who twisted his knee during the English premier league club's 4-3 defeat at Leeds on Saturday, would have surgery in the United States and was expected to be out until at least February.

Czech weather report

After a windy night with scattered showers, Tuesday will be a rather wet day with daytime highs between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius, dropping to between two and six above freezing at night.

Wednesday will be cloudy here in the Czech Republic, with scattered showers and maximum daytime temperatures between eight and 12 Celsius, dropping to around zero degrees at night.

Thursday's weather will follow the same autumnal pattern, with maximum daytime temperatures between six and 10 degrees Celsius.