News Wednesday, AUGUST 30th, 2000

Good afternoon, this is Radio Prague. I am Vladimir Tax and as usual, we begin with the news headlines.

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

Fire probably caused by careless workers

Investigators say the cause of the large fire that completely destroyed an old brewery in Prague Vinohrady district on Monday night may have been carelessness during preparatory works before renovation of the building. The head of the fire investigation team, Vaclav Hladik, said this is the most likely cause of the fire which has been described as the most destructive of the past decade. He said that the work probably included welding which could have set the architecturally valuable building on fire. The fire started on Monday at around 7 p.m. and the glow was visible from almost all of Prague's territory. It took more than three hours for several dozen fire engines to extinguish it.

Austrians step up campaign against Temelin

The Austrian government confirmed it would make its approval of the Czech Republic's EU membership conditional on observing nuclear safety standards at the Czech nuclear power station at Temelin. Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said should these criteria not be met, Austria will not agree with concluding the chapter on energy.

Austrians to block border crossings

Meanwhile, representatives of Upper Austria have expressed serious concern over the safety of the Temelin power station. They are planning to organise a blockade of Czech-Austrian border crossings on Saturday to highlight their fears. Temelin is located some 60 kilometres from the border with Austria and the country fears it would suffer from the consequences of a possible accident. The planned six-hour blockade on Saturday will affect three road border crossings. Czech police said they will be ready to take action against the blockade as they consider it illegal. The Temelin nuclear power station is undergoing heat testing and is expected to be brought on-line in mid-September.

Czech and German police arrest drug smugglers

Czech and German police officers arrested two international drug traffickers on Tuesday and seized a kilogram of the drug pervitin. The value of the drug was equal to 40 thousand deutsche marks. The long-planned operation was focused on drug traffickers of Vietnamese origin who have been smuggling pervitin from the Czech Republic to Germany since April. Czech police spokeswoman, Ivana Zelenáková, said the Vietnamese element was new to the Czech drug scene, which so far has been dominated by Kosovo Albanian organised groups.

Crimes of Communism to be forgotten?

Czech right-wing opposition politicians are worried about plans to abolish the Office for Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism. The plans are part of a reform of the penal code proposed by the Social Democratic government and some Communist MP's. The deputy leader of the Civic Democratic Alliance, Senator Michael Zantovsky, said such a reform was necessary but closing down the institution specialising in investigating the crimes committed by the communist regime was absolutely unacceptable. He sees it as an attempt to make people forget about the atrocities of the totalitarian regime and enable communists to try to return to power. The Office was established in 1995 and until now, it has investigated nearly 2500 cases and initiated criminal proceedings against 58 people.

Railway terrorist still escaping police

Police are still seeking a terrorist who damaged one of the Czech Republic's main railways lines - from Prague to the city of Pilsen - with a home-made explosive. A railway employee discovered a broken rail, misplaced sleepers and a remote- controlled ignition device on the track just several kilometres West of Prague late on Monday. The police has asked the public for help with the investigation but so far there seems to be no witnesses to the incident.

Weather forecast

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a partially cloudy day with scattered showers and thunderstorms in some places. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 21 to 25 degrees Celsius.

And that is the end of the news.