News Wednesday, FEBRUARY 02th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first we start with a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Havel supports EU against Haider

Czech President Vaclav Havel said on Tuesday that he fully supports a decision by the European Union to isolate Austria politically if Joerg Haider's far right Freedom party entered government. Havel's spokesman told journalists in Prague that the President understands the position of the European Union in defending its core principles against Haider and his party. He said that the European Union, which the Czech Republic wants to enter, is based on common values and mutual respect and cannot idly watch the rise of dangerous extremism. He added that the Freedom Party has recently made harsh anti- European statements, which negate the basis of the European Union. Haider is well known in the Czech Republic for his frequent statements slamming immigrants and EU expansion expressing attitudes which often appear to be sympathetic to nazism. The Czech Foreign Ministry added its support to Havel’s statement on Tuesday, with a spokesman saying that the Czech government understands EU warnings to Vienna that it would freeze bilateral political contacts and reduce diplomatic relations if Haider's party, which polled second in October elections, were allowed to form a government. Austrians on Tuesday, voiced their anger and disbelief over the EU reaction as negotiations to form a new government including Haider’s party, took place in Vienna.

Czech government discusses visas for Russians

The Czech government is preparing to discuss the possibility of re-introducing visas for Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians. This comes amid plenty of concern from police and Czechs that there are too many people from Russia residing illegally in the Czech Republic. Observers say that Russians pose a criminal threat, many Ukrainians are in the Czech Republic working illegally and Belorussians pose a political threat. The cabinet is also expected to discuss plans to scrap the Children and Young people’s Fund and review a proposal for an ecologically friendly agricultural law.

Havel well and taking antibiotics

Doctors say Czech President Vaclav Havel is feeling well and taking antibiotics. This comes after Havel was taken to hospital on Tuesday after succumbing to flu and developing a fever overnight. The President, a chain smoker until lung cancer surgery in 1996, has frequently suffered from pneumonia and bronchitis. His doctors have repeatedly warned that any viral infection is potentially dangerous.

Under the Czech constitution , Havel's role is more ceremonial than executive, but the President is still the key figure around elections and at times of government failures. His current term, the last he is allowed by law, ends in 2003.

The 63 year old President who has almost died three times after complications with lung cancer and a perforated intestine, has cancelled his schedule for the rest of the week.

STEM on Holocaust

An opinion poll has revealed that 52% of Czechs believe that claiming the Nazi holocaust never took place should be classed as a crime. Researchers also ascertained that three quarters of the 616 people asked, knew about the holocaust while people who are likely to vote for the right of center Freedom Union Party and University graduates think that people in the Czech Republic could be better informed on the subject of the holocaust. Two thirds of people also said that the day marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, should be made into a national holiday. A move Czech President Vaclav Havel has recently said he would be in favour of as well.

Activists rule out racism

Human rights activists said on Tuesday that customs officials who refused to let a group of Roma entry to Germany, are not guilty of racism. This comes as some 35 Slovak Roma were turned away from the border as officials said they did not have enough money per person per day as required under the terms of the Schengen Treaty.

Some Roma activists, however, are claiming that German border guards are placing more stringent conditions on Roma travellers wishing to enter Germany.

Legal representative attacks police inertia

Jakub Polak, a lawyer, who is representing a group of Roma who were attacked last November, in a restaurant in the South Bohemian town of Ceské Budejovice, has criticized local police, saying nothing is being done to bring the skinheads responsible for the attack, to justice. Mr Polak, expressed his outrage on Tuesday, saying that investigators are reluctant to search for proof that shots were fired during the attack. While experts say that the 9mm holes made in the glass doors, during the incident, are the result of gunfire, police insist that these holes were made by ashtrays or flying beer bottles.

Mr Polak said the police are scared of the skinheads, warning that this could lead to similar crimes and asked why nothing is being done to find several key witness who saw a man brandishing a pistol as the attack was taking place. The bloody episode has seen over 250 Roma leave the town. They say they were scared to go out in the aftermath of the attack and feared for their lives.

Beer in the back garden

Finally, business is booming for a man in the town of Liberec, who has taken to brewing beer in his back garden. The forty eight year old man spent 30 years in the industry after being made redundant two years ago. With a little help from friends, he is now producing 22 gallons daily and says his only problem is that demand is greater than supply!

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

The weather over the next few days will remain mild, but cloudy, with occasional snow showers in hilly areas. Temperatures during the night will be fairly chilly, and should be anywhere from between minus four to zero degrees Celsius, and temperatures during the day should range between seven and nine degrees Celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.