News Wednesday, DECEMBER 30th, 1998
Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:
Lone hunger strike over
A woman's lone hunger strike for dual citizenship is over. Fifty -five year old Jirina Fuchsova, a Czech emigre who now has American citizenship, broke off her hunger strike on Tuesday morning after a telephone conversation with interior minister Vaclav Grulich who assured her that a law on dual citizenship is in the pipeline and its approval is merely a question of time. Fuchsova, who had camped out overnight in front of the government building in Prague, said she would continue in her campaign for Czech expats to be given restitution rights as well as the right to vote.
Benda calls on interior minister to resign
Vaclav Benda, senator for the Civic Democratic Party has accused interior minister Vaclav Grulich of damaging the country's interests and suggested he step down of his own accord so as to spare the prime minister the embarrassment of having to dismiss him. Benda has accused Grulich of trying to dismantle the Office for Investigation of Communist Crimes and says that Grulich's actions are also complicating the Czech Republic's admission to NATO. Grulich responded by stating that the accusations were ludicrous and the senator's appeal did not even deserve a reply.
Viagra on its way
Health authorities have warned Czechs not to buy their Viagra pills on the black market promising that pharmacies should get them within a matter of weeks. A spokesman for the firm Pfizer which produces it locally, supported the appeal, stressing that the pill is available on prescription only and warned it could have serious side effects in chronically ill patients.
Czech Republic - smuggling
Smugglers gangs are said to be using the Czech Republic as a transit state for thousands of illegal refugees from the East whose ultimate destination is Germany or Great Britain. The Independent says in its Tuesday edition that only a coordinated international effort can help stem the flow of illegal immigrants which in Britain alone amounts to an average 4,000 people per month. The paper notes that smuggling of people has become a highly lucrative business in recent years and is far less dangerous than drugs trafficking which is heavily penalized in most European states.
Czech-Slovak New Year's Eve celebrations
Czechs and Slovaks who wish the break up of the Czechoslovak federation had never happened continue to celebrate New Year's Eve together. The celebrations take place in a mountain resort close to the border and traditionally last four days, starting December 29th. The participants engage in outdoor activities, mountain climbing or skiing, and there's a lot of singing, dancing and good wine involved in the process of fostering friendly relations.
No Czech fireworks in Germany
German border patrols have warned that Czech made fireworks are not allowed in the country and any attempt to smuggle them across would result in their confiscation and a heavy fine. Germans living close to the border take advantage of the lower prices in the Czech Republic and annually stock up on cheap cigarettes, food, alcohol and fireworks in preparation of the end-of-year celebrations. Last year border patrols confiscated over 20,000 Czech made fireworks, which had not been OK-ed by the respective German authorities.
Cheap rail transport for seniors
While for the vast majority of us transport will become more expensive in 1999, people over seventy will be able to take advantage of a special seniors' licence issued on request by Czech Railways. The holder of this licence will be able to travel second class on all regular trains for a mere 290 crowns per year. On Eurocity, Intercity and express trains they will be given a 50% price reduction. This measure is valid as of Friday January 1st.
Charity doing well
The Prague Castle annual charity campaign in aid of orphaned children is said to have collected over a quarter of a million crowns to date. An average 10,000 crowns a day are being dropped into the money boxes at the foot of the Xmas tree on the compound's main square. The money is to be divided among SOS children's villages and orphanages across the country. If you are listening to us in Prague and would like to make a contribution you have until January 5th.
We begin with eastern Bohemia and Moravia where icy roads still plague drivers and pedestrians. Reports say there has been no let up and traffic police are requesting that people be extra careful, stay indoors as much as possible and not drive unless it is absolutely necessary. On Monday alone four people lost their lives in car accidents and 47 were injured. Here in Prague no significant change is expected. Wednesday should be a grey and overcast day with day temps between 2 and 6 degs C.