News Wednesday, APRIL 05th, 2000

Good morning and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Rob Cameron, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

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

Gross appointed new Interior Minister

President Vaclav Havel has appointed Stanislav Gross as the new Interior Minister. The thirty-year-old Mr Gross replaces Vaclav Grulich, who resigned earlier on Tuesday after several months of speculation. Mr Gross, who stepped down as the parliamentary leader of the ruling Social Democrats, told reporters there would be no radical shake-up at the ministry. Mr Grulich claims he was forced out of office for political reasons. The main opposition Civic Democrats, who keep the minority Social Democrat cabinet in power under a power-sharing pact, are reported to have demanded his resignation in exchange for their support for the state budget.

Civic Democrats still on top

The latest opinion poll carried out by the Sofres-Factum agency shows Mr Klaus's Civic Democrats enjoying the support of 20 percent of voters, with the ruling Social Democrats and the Communist Party on 15 percent each. The results roughly correspond to recent polls by rival agencies, with the Civic Democrats remaining the most popular party.

Miners at Kohinoor declare total strike

All the miners at North Bohemia's Kohinoor coal mine have joined a strike in protest at possible job losses. A group of fifty miners began their fifth day underground on Tuesday after occupying a mine shaft. The miners say they want a guarantee their jobs will be preserved, and have also demanded the resignation of the current board of directors. President Havel has refused to meet representatives of the striking coal-miners, but says he will continue to monitor the situation closely. The government has also refused to become directly involved in the talks, as the mine is now in private hands.

Maticni street wall to be sold to zoo

The Czech Republic's most famous wall - built last year to separate a housing estate inhabited mostly by Romanies from white-owned houses opposite, is to be sold to a local zoo. The wall, in the northern city of Usti nad Labem, provoked a storm of criticism both at home and abroad when it was erected last November, and the local council was forced to dismantle just weeks later. The local mayor, Pavel Tosovsky, announced on Tuesday that the wall would be sold in its entirety to Usti Zoo, for about 6,000 dollars.

Far-left groups announced demonstrations against IMF meeting

Far-left groups say they will hold a number of demonstrations in September, as world leaders and business representatives descend on the Czech capital for the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Socialist Workers' Organisation and the Communist Union of Youth said the demonstrations would be orderly and peaceful, unlike the recent anti-globalisation demonstrations in Seattle and the rioting that followed the so-called 'Global Street Party' in Prague in 1998. The Czech authorities have announced sweeping security measures for the meeting, and a large area around the Prague Congress Centre will be sealed off to the public.

Havel defends 'mafia capitalism' claims

President Vaclav Havel has defended his claims that the Czech Republic had been subjected to what he termed 'mafia capitalism' in the first decade of economic transformation. The former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, whose centre-right coalition oversaw widespread privatisation in the early 1990s, said Mr Havel's words were an insult to millions of honest businessmen in the country and had blackened the name of the Czech Republic abroad. President Havel responded by saying that his words were in defence of honest businessmen, who had lost billions in the theft and embezzlement that accompanied privatisation.

Tourists warned against 'fake' police officers

Police have warned visitors to Prague to be on their guard against criminals posing as police officers. A spokesman said there were a number of criminals at large in the Czech capital, who carry fake police identity cards and claim to be checking for counterfeit money, before stealing the tourists' wallets. The spokesman said police were preparing leaflets to enable tourists to tell real policemen apart from impostors.


And I´ll end as usual with a quick look at Thursday's weather forecast. And it will be a rather cool and cloudy day with scattered showers in places. Daytime temperatures will reach a maximum of ten degrees Celsius, falling to zero at night.

I'm Rob Cameron, and that's the end of the news.