News Wednesday, NOVEMBER 15th, 2000

By Rob Cameron

New poll shows Social Democrats in third place after weekend fiasco

The governing Social Democrats and the Communist Party have agreed on close cooperation at regional government level. Following the Social Democrats' resounding defeat in Sunday's regional and Senate elections, the leaders of the two left-of-centre parties agreed to form coalitions in the three regions where they have a majority and to support each other's candidates in the second round of Senate elections to be held this Sunday. The Communist Party, which has long fought to get out of its enforced isolation has hailed this election victory as a milestone in the party's post-revolution history. " There are times when party leaders need to help each other out" Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek told newsmen after a late night meeting with Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Milos Zeman. Grebenicek said the regional coalitions would show how well and how closely the Communists and Social Democrats could cooperate in the future.

Zeman accepts responsibility, but resignation would be ‘theatrical’ gesture

The Social Democrat leader, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, said after Sunday’s elections that he accepted full responsibility for the party's poor showing. But Mr Zeman, who plans to step down as party leader next year, said offering his resignation now would be a theatrical gesture. Meanwhile President Vaclav Havel said the low turnout – less than 40 percent - was a warning of the poor relationship between the political establishment and the voters. He appealed to voters to take part in the second round of Senate elections.

Austrian protestors to swamp Temelin safety hearing

Austrian anti-nuclear activists have called on ‘all Austrians’ to attend a Czech public hearing into safety at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Austrian protest leader Josef Puhringer said activists would present the Czech authorities with a petition bearing 40,000 signatures at the hearing, which begins on Thursday in the town of Tyn nad Vltavou. The plant was recently completed at a cost of some 100 billion Czech crowns, and was launched to fierce protests from neighbouring Austria, which is firmly opposed to nuclear power.

Single Czech victim of Austrian railway fire ‘skiing instructor’

The only Czech victim of Saturday’s mountain railway fire in Kaprun was probably a skiing instructor working in a local hotel. The hotel owner, who is Czech, has told reporters that the woman, whose name was withheld, had been in charge of a group of Japanese skiers known to have been on the train. The Austrian interior ministry has confirmed that a Czech national was among the victims. More than 160 people are now known to have died in the disaster.

Belarus complains to Warsaw after assault on Prague ambassador

Belarus has sent a note of protest to neighbouring Poland, after the country’s ambassador to the Czech Republic was beaten up in Warsaw. A spokesman for the Belarussian Foreign Ministry said Ambassador Vladimir Belsky was stopped and attacked while driving through the Polish capital. The spokesman said the ministry believed the attack, which happened on Friday, was carried out by Polish citizens. Mr Belsky suffered a fractured arm and his car was stolen. The ambassador is now back in Prague.

Greek President arrives

The Greek President Constantine Stefanopoulos has begun a visit to Prague for talks with senior Czech officials on bilateral relations and the developments in the Balkans, where Greece is considered an important stabilising factor. President Stefanopoulos told reporters that Athens no longer insisted on the admission of Cyprus as a precondition to EU expansion. He also said Greece fully supported the Czech Republic’s membership of the organisation.

Italian sent to prison for false lira

A 40-year-old Italian man accused of attempting to exchange almost a million lira in counterfeit notes has been sentenced to five years in prison by a Czech court. The prosecution claimed the man attempted to change the false notes at a number of locations in Plzen. The man has denied the charges.


And finally, the weather. Wednesday will see morning lows from one to five Celsius, daytime highs from eight to 12 degrees in the west, and between ten and 14 Celsius in Moravia and Silesia. Scattered showers are likely throughout the country. On Thursday, skies will be cloudy all day long, night-time lows between zero and plus five degrees, daytime temperatures between seven and 11 Celsius.