Daily news summary News Monday, JANUARY 25th, 1999

25-01-1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.

PALACH-FUNERAL-ANNIVERSARY

Monday is the 30th anniversary of the self-immolation of Czech student Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in 1969 in protest of the creeping re-Stalinisation of his country a few months after Soviet tanks crushed the Czechoslovak Prague Spring in August 1968.

Students of Charles University's Philosophical Faculty -- Palach's Alma Mater -- will mark the occasion by a solemn procession to the riding statue of Prince Wenceslas where he committed his act 30 years ago.

The funeral of Jan Palach, who was 20, turned into a nationwide demonstration for freedom and democracy. His grave in Prague's Olsany Cemetery was a symbol of anti-communist resistance until the authorities had Palach's body exhumed, cremated and buried in his family's grave at Vsetaty near Prague. The remains were returned to Olsany in 1990.

Ten years ago, Communist police brutally dispersed a series of protests in Prague marking 20 years of Palach's self-sacrifice. PREMIER MULLS CLOSER TIES WITH OPPOSITION

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman says he favours extending the non- aggression pact between the ruling Social Democrats and the main- opposition Civic Democratic Party ODS of Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus.

Zeman said in a debate programme on private TV NOVA on Sunday the agreement between the two should be deepened in order to better define the roles of the opposition and government parties. He said both parties ought to utilise their experience with the practical functioning of their six months old deal.

Our correspondent says the so-called "opposition agreement" effectively enabled the Social Democrats to form a one-party minority cabinet following June's parliamentary elections.

Premier Zeman and the ODS's Deputy Chairwoman, Senate leader Libuse Benesova, both rejected the idea of forming a grand coalition and stressed the necessity of good communication with other parties.

PARTY DEFENDS EX-PREMIER'S CALL ON YUGOSLAV EMBASSY

Shadow Foreign Minister Jan Zahradil from the ODS strongly defended on Sunday Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus's recent visit to rump Yugoslavia's embassy in Prague, ostensibly to sign a Serb translation of his book.

The visit last Monday is being seen as controversial since it followed shortly after the massacre of 40 ethnic Albanians in the southern Kosovo village of Racak, which the international community blames on the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Zahradil said in a written statement that the visit had been arranged long in advance and had nothing to do with Klaus's stance on the Kosovo problem.

CZECH-US-AMBASSADOR-SPEECH

The new American Ambassador John Shattuck will deliver a keynote speech at the Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday afternoon.

His topic is "Security for Democracy" and the event is jointly sponsored by the Czech Institute for International Relations and the American Embassy in Prague.

PRESIDENT-MINISTER-CLEMENCY

Justice Minister Otakar Motejl is convinced that Czech presidents should retain their constitutional right to exercise clemency.

Motejl said in a debate on commercial TV Prima on Sunday that proposed changes to the Czech constitution should not curtail the rights enjoyed by the head of state. But he said amnesties should never be granted on a mass scale.

Under their post-election pact, the Social Democrats and the ODS are expected to propose constitutional changes by the end of July. Apart from amendments to the election system these are said to envisage also curtaining the powers of the Czech president.

BELGIAN PAEDOPHILE-CZECH CONNECTION

The Belgian paedophile Marc Dutroux, who is being suspected of having murdered several teenage girls, reportedly planned forming an international prostitution ring using young women from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Investigating Judge Jacques Langlois told the Czech news Agency CTK on Sunday that Dutroux, who is in custody, had planned to recruit prostitutes from both countries for short-term work in Belgium. The judge said Czech and Slovak visitors are not required to produce entry visas for stays with a maximum duration of three months.

CZECH-GERMAN-REFUGEE-SMUGGLING

Two Czechs go on trial in Germany next week, charged with causing the death of several Kosovo refugees while smuggling them into Germany.

Our correspondent says the trial will open on Tuesday in the Saxon town of Chemnitz near the Czech border.

The two Czechs stand accused of crashing a van in which seven Kosovo Albanians were killed last summer.

CZECH-ACTOR-SPAIN-PRIZE

Czech actor Miroslav Taborsky received the Goya Prize in Madrid at the weekend for his role in the Spanish film director Fernando Trueba's production "The Girl of My Dreams".

Taborsky, an actor at Prague's Divadlo ve Dlouhe theatre, played the role of interpreter in the film set in pre-World War II Germany.

The Goya Prize is the Spanish equivalent of America's Oscars.

CZECH-WEATHER

A quick look at the weather -- and a warm front will bring more precipitations to Central Europe this week. Monday will be foggy and overcast with local showers or drizzle. Daytime highs between three and seven Celsius.

On Tuesday, a cold front will advance across Czech territory ahead of a cold-air intrusion from the west. Snow showers are expected in the mountains and drizzling rain in the lowlands. Nighttime lows from zero to four degrees above, daytime maxima between four and eight degrees Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.

25-01-1999