News Wednesday, MARCH 29th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I’m Pauline Newman, first we start a bulletin of news

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

BIS / Havel / Talks

The Director of the Secret Service the BIS held talks with President Vaclav Havel on Tuesday. A spokesman for the President told journalists that discussions were of a confidential nature. Two weeks ago, Havel asked the BIS to investigate after he said he believed several forces were trying to destabilize the activities of two crime fighting units of the police force. There is wide speculation that the person under investigation is a lawyer with a criminal record. Czech media reports have suggested that the man is in touch with the Russian Mafia and by using his contacts in the Social Democrat party, is undermining the police units fighting economic and organized crime.

Zeman / Norway

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is on the second leg of his trip to Norway, Finland and Lithuania. Wednesday will see Zeman visiting an industrial center in the north of Norway and holding talks on employment and regional development. In the afternoon, the Czech Prime Minister is to attend a seminar in Helsinki. Observers say Zeman will talk to potential investors about post - 1989 opportunities in the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, during his trip to Finland, Zeman held talks with the regional commander of NATO armed forces. He also talked about the expansion of the European union, and problems connected to the creation of a new security strategy set to replace the Western European Union. The trip is part of Milos Zeman's campaign to boost investment in the Czech Republic. In recent months he has flown all over the world where he has marketed his investment incentives. The result has been that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has reached a record high.

Mein Kampf / Another 15 000 copies

After the controversial first printing of a Czech version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf sold out in three days, the publisher is now planning a second printing of at least twice as many copies. Michal Zitko, director of the Prague based publishing house Otakar II said on Tuesday that "thanks to the unprecedented media campaign, which he did not finance or participate in" four thousand copies had sold out almost immediately. He says that because of the book's success, he intends to print as many as 15 000 copies. This is certain to outrage local human rights activists, former resistance fighters and Jewish groups who threatened to sue the 28 year old publisher. Although he maintains that the book was published as a historical document, Zitko admitted on Tuesday that he has already made six and a half thousand dollars on the first printing of the book.

Klaus / Motejl / Fax

Czech Justice Minister Otakar Motejl came under fire on Tuesday, from leader of the main opposition Civic Democrat party, Vaclav Klaus. This comes after Motejl told a Czech newspaper that he saw a fax from the Civic Democrats addressed to Prime Minister Milos Zeman demanding a ministerial exchange in return for supporting the budget. Motejl said in the controversial interview that he thought it was absurd to negotiate like this over the state budget. Klaus said on Tuesday that his party would never send such a message and called for an apology or proof. Motejl was quick to take back his words later via a spokesman and wrote a letter of apology to Klaus, indicating that his words had been distorted. Prime Minister Milos Zeman has exchanged several ministers recently and it is thought that the next and final change will be the post of Interior Minister.

Zantovsky / Zeman / Information

Czech Senator Michal Zantovsky said on Tuesday that he intends to bring charges against Prime Minister Milos Zeman this week. He believes that Zeman has been breaking the law by withholding information from the public. This comes after Zantovsky made a written request earlier in the year, for information concerning a state visit to Iraq. Zantovsky said on Tuesday that he also asked to see a copy of the government’s plan to resolve problems in a public company. He told journalists that by law Zeman should have replied within 30 days and that this information is not classified. Zantovsky added that he is also considering pressing charges against Foreign Minister Jan Kavan for the same reasons.

Hamzik / Visit / EU

Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamzik is to arrive in the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon for talks with senior Czech government officials on integration into the European Union. On Thursday he will attend an international conference in Prague „The European Banking & Financial Forum“. Slovakia is in the second group of countries, aspiring to enter the Union. EU officials have now decided that candidate countries will be assessed on the basis of preparation rather than the group they have been placed in. The Czech Republic which is in the first group has welcomed this decision saying it should facilitate a Czech - Slovak customs union.

Czech reaction to EU

The Czech Interior Ministry said on Tuesday afternoon that it had not received any report from the European Union on the state of affairs at the Czech Justice and Interior ministries. As a result it said it had no official statement to make on recent criticism from EU officials on Czech border protection.

Dos Santos / Hospital / Prague

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is currently undergoing a minor dental operation in the Czech Republic. The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed the news, saying the Angolan President was in the Czech Republic for routine and planned medical treatment. Dos Santos visited Prague last November to undergo medical treatment. He also met officials for discussions. The Czech Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that no talks have been planned this time round, since the visit is of a private nature.

Heroin seized / Czech - German border

News has come in, that Czech guards at a border crossing with Germany, detained two people earlier in the week, after finding a kilogram of heroin hidden in their car. A spokesman said the heroin was obviously intended for the German narcotics market. He said police had reason to believe that more people are involved in the activities of the drug smuggling gang which probably operates in other European countries. If these suspicions are confirmed, the man and woman in their twenties and thirties could go to jail for up to 15 years.

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

Although we may expect more of the wet, windy weather, we’ve been having over the last few days, it is set to get a little warmer on Wednesday with temperatures ranging from 6 to 11 degrees Celsius. More snow is expected in the mountains and temperatures overnight in the rest of the country will drop to around zero.

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