News Tuesday, OCTOBER 27th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Havel / Zilke / Benda

In the latest developments in the affair surrounding Helmut Zilk, president Havel has asked appropriate state bodies to declassify the Czechoslovak communist secret police files on the former mayor of Vienna. Havel decided to do so after the former director of the Czech Bureau for the Investigation of Communist Crimes, senator Vaclav Benda, confirmed that Zilk had collaborated with the Czechoslovak secret police and later became its paid agent.

Havel originally intended to honour Zilk with the Order of White Lion but decided not to do so after indications that Zilk helped the communist secret police in the 1950's and 60's, an allegation that Zilk categorically denies. The Czech foreign ministry does not expect the controversy to influence Czech-Austrian relations in any way.

Missing helicopter found

A military helicopter with three Czech crew on board has crashed in a mountainous area of southwestern Bosnia. The NATO-led Stabilisation Force in Bosnia said on Monday none of the crew survived the accident. The helicopter had gone missing on Sunday on its flight from the Bosnian town of Gorni Vakuf in central Bosnia to the Croatian town of Split. The helicopter and its crew were part of a Czech battalion based in the town of Velika Kladusa in western Bosnia.

CNB cuts rates

The Czech National Bank has cut all the key interest rates as of the 27th of October. The Central Bank announced on Monday that it cut the repo rate by one percent to 12.5 percent, the Lombard rate also one percent to 15, and the discount rate by one and a half percent to ten percent. The bank said this was a reaction to the positive development of inflation in the past few months.

Police / Romanies / asylum

Czech police have no indication that the mass exodus of Czech Romanies to Britain was organized, the Czech interior ministry said on Monday. The ministry was reacting to allegations voiced by foreign minister Jan Kavan who cited British sources. The interior ministry said British bodies have not provided any concrete information to the Czech side but as soon as this happens, Czech police will start an investigation.

Foreign minister Jan Kavan had previously said that during his visit to Britain, he was informed that there was evidence about the migration of Czech and Slovak Romanies being organized by groups profitting from it.

Sladek's double innocence

The Prague 1 district court has repeatedly declared far-right republican leader Miroslav Sladek innocent of spreading racial hatred. Sladek had been accused of doing so during a republican rally in January 1997 when Czech and German premiers were signing the bi-lateral post-war reconciliation treaty. The prosecutor claimed that Sladek had publicly encouraged hatred against the German nation, but the court once again found nothing illegal about his speech.

Lachnit about budget

Continuation of the current economic policy and possible rejection of a deficit state budget will lead to a yet deeper economic crisis in the Czech Republic, according to Social Democrat deputy chairman Petr Lachnit. In his opinion, a rejection of a deficit state budge by parliament will accelerate the growth of unemployment, limit infrastructure investment and cause cuts in public sector expenditures. According to preliminary information, the government is about to present another version of the state budget with a deficit ranging from 30 to 35 billion crowns. Originally, the government planned a deficit of 27 billion but the parliament rejected the draft.

Most people trust Havel

President Havel is the politician whom Czechs trust the most, according to the latest opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency. The survey revealed that 60 percent of Czechs trusted Havel above all other political figures. Second in the list was premier Milos Zeman with 48 percent.

Czech weather forecast

And a quick look at the weather: we are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, highest daytime temperatures should reach from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should be much the same, cloudy with showers and temperatures around ten degrees Celsius.

And finally, just quickly about the events taking place here in the Czech Republic today:

Czech transport minister Antonin Peltram is meeting his Austrian counterpart Caspar Einem to discuss cooperation in the development of the railways system.

Romanian defence minister Victor Babiuc, who is on a two-day state visit to the Czech Republic, is expected to meet with his Czech counterpart, Vladimir Vetchy and other Czech officials for talks about military cooperation between the two countries.

Foreign minister Jan Kavan is to deliver an address on the occasion of United Nations Day.

And that's the end of the news.