News Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 12th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

Czechs warm up Temelin nuckear plant

The Czech power company CEZ has begun raising temperature in the first reactor of its controversial Temelin nuclear power plant as tests ahead of the plant's launch continue.

CEZ plans to request regulators' permission to turn on the first block of the station in late December in spite of protests from abroad.

Temelin is situated about 50 kilometres from the Austrian and German borders.

The company said a number of tests would be done before the temperature is raised further. CEZ had planned to activate the first block in mid-September, but several glitches have delayed the launch. But Spokesman Ladislav Kriz has told reporters that the shortfalls, including minor water leaks, faulty steam generator and valves, have been fixed.

The Soviet-designed power station equipped with a U.S. control system is fiercely opposed by the Czech Republic's western neighbours, especially Austria, and by environmental groups that claim it is unsafe and unnecessary.

Austrian protesters have blocked Czech border crossings twice in recent weeks and plan further actions against Temelin in the coming days.

Anti-globalization protesters may target nuclear plants

Anti-globalization activists planning protests at this month's meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Prague may also target the Temelin and Dukovany nuclear plants, according to some reports.

The newspaper PRAVO says the power plant operators have called for stepped-up security measures. It says police and intelligence services have information fairly radical groups. A source with the Czech military intelligence services was quoted as saying the planned protests should not be taken lightly.

The IMF/World Bank's annual autumn meeting opens in Prague on September 18. Authorities are bracing themselves for protests by anti-globalization campaigners which could include rallies at Temelin.

Environmental project for Czech, German, Polish students

The EU enlargement commissioner, Guenter Verheugen has announced that about 4,000 students from 50 grammar schools from the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland will work in the next three years on various cross-border environment- protecting projects.

The project, subsidized with almost six million deutsche marks, was initiated by the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Each of the high schools involved will have a partner school on the other side of the border, with which it will jointly handle a specific environmental problem. Solutions will be published by leading newspapers in all three countries.

Senior officials sued over bank collapse

The Prague Municipal Attorney says the National Property Fund, the Czech privatization bureau, has sued three prominent figures over the case of the collapsed bank Pragobanka.

National Bank Governor Josef Tosovsky, former Finance Minister Ivan Pilip and former National Property Fund chief Roman Ceska, are under suspicion that they may have committed a crime in 1997 by channelling hundreds of millions of crowns to Pragobanka although they must have known that this bank was heading for a collapse. The money with which they probably wanted to bail Pragobanka out had been taken from funds accrued in privatization processes.

So far, no charges have been brought against any of the three men.

Olympics: Emil Zatopek in serious condition

The legendary fifties' Czech Olympic champion Emil Zatopek remains in hospital in a serious condition, suffering from pneumonia and high fevers..

The 77-year-old former long-distance runner was rushed to hospital last week with fever and exhaustion. Hospital officials would not comment further.

Zatopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals as well as one silver, was admitted to hospital earlier this year after breaking a hip.

Zatopek's finest achievements came at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics when he won the 5,000 and 10,000 metres plus the marathon in the space of eight days, each in Olympic record time.

Soccer: Slavia Prague re-sign Suchoparek

Football -- and the Czech side Slavia Prague have re-signed their former defender Jan Suchoparek.

Slavia spokesman Zdenek Kudela says that Suchoparek, who missed the Euro 2000 campaign due to an injured knee, signed a 30-month contract with the team as a free agent.

Slavia hope the experienced libero with 61 caps will be fit to help them in later stages of the UEFA Cup after recovering from the injury.

Suchoparek, who helped the Czechs to the final of the 1996 European Championship, left Slavia shortly afterwards for Racing Strasbourg and moved last year to Tennis Borussia Berlin, who dropped out of the German league because of financial problems last June.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, a look at the weather here in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday will have a rather cold start with early morning lows between seven and 11 degrees Celsius. But the day will be quite warm, with afternoon highs between 22 and 26 degrees. There will be some scattered showers and evening lows between nine and 13 degrees.

Wednesday will be rather cloudy, with maximum daytime temperatures between 22 and 26 Celsius. The weatherman says there will be some scattered thunderstorms during the day.

Thursday will be a basically dry day with temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius, dropping to between eight and 12 degrees at night.