News Wednesday, AUGUST 02th, 2000

By Kazi Stastna

Czech Air Force plane down in east Bohemia

A military training jet has crashed in eastern Bohemia, killing the pilot, who is believed to have been a highly ranked officer of the Czech Air Force. The L-29 Delfin is the second military plane to have gone down this year, and the crash is one in a long series of accidents that have plagued the Czech Air Force since 1989.

Refugees detain employees at Cerveny Ujezd refugee camp

Police have had to intervene at the Cerveny Ujezd refugee camp in north Bohemia, after refugees at the camp prevented employees from leaving the premises. The camp was placed under quarantine last week after 16 cases of Hepatitis E were discovered there. According to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, the 48 refugees who detained the workers had intended to flee the camp in the employees' vehicle. Several dozen refugees have fled the camp since the quarantine was announced, three of whom are believed to be infected with Hepatitis E. Police are pursuing the refugees and have lodged a complaint against all persons who left the camp after the quarantine was imposed.

Czech Helsinki Committee criticises police priorities

The Czech Helsinki Committee has expressed concern over the recent behaviour of Czech police. In its released statement, the human rights organisation criticised the police for its over-zealousness in preparing to crack down on protests at the fall meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on one hand, and its neglect of serious crimes such as violence against women, robbery and prostitution on the other. The committee has specifically criticised the police's reaction to two attacks against women which occurred in June in Prague, and which the organisation said were inadequately publicised.

Remaining Czech Tek ravers given ultimatum to leave premises

The remaining partiers at a rave in southern Bohemia have been given an ultimatum to leave the grounds by the mayor of the Jilovec region. The rave, dubbed Czech Tek, has been going on since last Friday, and reports say 500 of the original 5000 participants, which included Techno music fans from the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Poland, are currently left on the site. According to a local police spokesman police are prepared to intervene at the mayor's request.

Senators set to debate controversial Czech National Bank law

Senators are set to debate a controversial amendment to the law on the Czech National Bank. Critics of the new law, which include the European Commission and the European Central Bank, have alleged that it will threaten the bank's independence. Under the new law, the central bank's focus would change from monetary to price stability, its budget would be divided into two, and the government would have influence over the appointment of the bank's top representatives as well as over its inflation targets and exchange rates. The Senate is expected to amend the bill and return it to the Lower Chamber.

Anti-globalisation activists launch first protest in Prague

Members of the Initiative Against Economic Globalisation or INPEG have launched their first demonstration in Prague. The event is the first of a planned series of protests dubbed "55 years were enough" which are to take place every 10 of the remaining 55 days until the fall meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Prague.

New League of Ethnic Minorities to change Czech attitudes

A man of Czech and African origin has founded a League of Ethnic Minorities aimed at changing Czech attitudes toward minorities. The league, which currently has over twenty members and has launched its own website, plans to run summer language schools and hold cultural events to improve relations between the majority population and ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic.

President Havel announces Senate and regional elections

President Vaclav Havel has announced the date of the fall Senate and regional elections, which are to take place on November 12th. The elections will replace one-third of the senators in the Upper Chamber and fill posts in 13 newly established regions throughout the country. It will be the first time that Czech voters elect regional representatives. The elections will take place under the new electoral system which was pushed through Parliament in June by the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats despite a presidential veto and opposition from minority parties. Under the new system voting will take place on one day instead of three and local representatives will be elected by a proportional system. President Havel has lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court contesting aspects of the new law, but claimed this did not conflict with his recent announcement of the upcoming elections.

New details of shady Social Democratic financing

A representative of the Tchas company has revealed that the firm Alfa Horizont, which is owned by five high-ranking members of the ruling Social Democratic Party, paid Tchas three million crowns for a villa in the north Moravian town of Ostrava. Alfa Horizont is owned by the Minister for Regional Development, Petr Lachnit, Senator Alfred Michalik and three of their Social Democratic colleagues. The owners are suspected of accepting secret donations for the purchase of the villa. Some owners and Social Democratic officials have admitted that sponsors were involved in the purchase, while others have denied the claim. Tchas is one of the companies suspected of secretly financing the deal but has denied any involvement.


And finally a quick look at the weather. Partly cloudy skies are expected on Thursday, with scattered showers in some regions. Day temperatures will hover around 25 degrees Celsius, dropping to lows of 13 in the evening.