News Wednesday, APRIL 26th, 2000

Hello 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.

Zieleniec: Klaus knew about suspicious donations

A former leading member of the right-of-centre Civic Democrat Party has said that party leader Vaclav Klaus was aware of suspicious donations received by the Civic Democrats in the mid-1990s. Josef Zieleniec, who served as Foreign Minister in Mr Klaus's centre-right coalition, told a court in Prague that he had informed the then Prime Minister in 1996 of the existence of a number of suspicious gifts, which were later found to have been registered under false names. Speaking at the trial of the party's former treasurer, Libor Novak, Mr Zieleniec confirmed that the party's senior leadership had discussed the matter. The Civic Democrat funding scandal led to the collapse of the Klaus government in 1997, and later the split of his party. Mr Klaus, who is due to appear in court on Wednesday, claims he had no knowledge of any suspicious payments. Meanwhile the Social Democrat Senator Jiri Vyvadil was quoted as saying on Tuesday that he will ask President Vaclav Havel to pardon Libor Novak if he is found guilty of tax evasion in connection with the donations.

Britain records increase in number of Roma asylum-seekers

The authorities in Britain say the number of Roma asylum-seekers from the Czech Republic is again on the increase. New figures show some 230 Roma families seeking asylum in Britain in March, compared to 170 in February and January. The asylum-seekers say they are the victims of widespread racial discrimination in the Czech Republic, a view shared by the human rights organisation Amnesty International. The Czech authorities say they are leaving for economic reasons. London has threatened to re-impose visas for Czech citizens in the past if the number continued to rise.

Czech real estate to be off limits to EU citizens

The government has said that citizens of the European Union will be unable to buy property in the Czech Republic when the country joins the EU. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil told reporters that EU citizens would be able to work, study and do business in the Czech Republic, but would be unable to buy houses or land during an as yet undefined post-accession transition period. His comments were apparently in response to remarks made at the weekend by a spokesman for Bavaria's Christian Social Union, which represents large numbers of Czechoslovakia's ethnic Sudeten German community who were expelled en masse after the Second World War. The spokesman called on Prague to show good will and allow Sudeten Germans to purchase property in their former homeland.

Czech National Bank sets 2001 inflation target

The Czech National Bank has set the net inflation target for 2001 at between two and four percent. The governor of the central bank, Josef Tosovsky, said the bank's target was to bring inflation down to between one and three percent by 2005. Year-on-year inflation rose to 3.8 percent in March, up one point from the previous month. The increase was attributed to a steep rise in fuel prices, compensated by a drop in the price of food and some consumer goods.

Havel to appoint new ministers

President Vaclav Havel is expected to appoint two new ministers to Prime Minister Milos Zeman's Social Democrat cabinet on Wednesday. Jaromir Schling replaces Transport Minister Antonin Peltram, and Petr Lachnit takes over from Jaromir Cisar at the Ministry for Regional Development. The changes complete the cabinet reshuffle announced in January.


And I´ll end as usual with a look at Thursday's weather forecast. It will be another warm and sunny day, with temperatures reaching 26 degrees Celsius in the daytime, falling to eight degrees at night.

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