Daily news summary News Monday, NOVEMBER 29th, 1999

29-11-1999

Welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news. First the headlines.

Those were the main points, and now the news in more detail.

CZECH-CHRISTIAN-MASS

The Czech Republic said goodbye on Monday to former Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux, who died of leukaemia one week ago.

A requiem mass for 43-year-old Lux was served in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral on Monday morning, and was celebrated by the Czech Catholic primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. President Havel, Prime Minister Zeman and other leading officials attended the church farewell ceremony.

Mr. Lux’s remains will be buried in his family’s grave in eastern Bohemia.

Lux died at the Fred Hutchinson Clinic in Seattle of pneumonia and other complications a few weeks after receiving a bone marrow transplant. He was a father of six children and one of this country’s most outspoken politicians.

CZECH-STUDENTS-APPEAL

One of the authors of the petition demanding the resignation of top Czech political leaders 10 years after this country’s Velvet Revolution has said a demonstration in Prague next Friday will also call for restoring the spirit of decency in Czech politics.

Film director Igor Chaun, one of the student strike leaders 10 years ago, on Sunday told private TV Prima that the group’s demand is for Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus to step away from politics.

The petitioners exempted President Vaclav Havel from their appeal. However, the youth faction of the ruling Social Democrats on Sunday urged him to reconsider his future presidency because, as they said, he too bears responsibility for the course of his country.

Some observers believe the former students’ appeal could be the start of an effort to form a new political party, but the latest indications are this is not a foregone conclusion.

The students’ appeal, citing arrogance and indecision on the part of the Czech establishmentarians, has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people since it was released on November 17. It is also harshly critical of the political pact which enables the minority Social Democrat cabinet to stay in power thanks to the support of the main opposition Civic Democrats.

Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus said in another TV debate on Sunday he would leave politics if beaten in elections during his party’s upcoming congress. But our correspondent says he will run unopposed.

CZECH-MEXICO-CUBA-SANCTIONS

The Czech Republic and Mexico said on Sunday sanctions against Cuba are not the best way how to make Fidel Castro’s regime respect human rights.

The visiting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his Mexican colleague Rosario Green said in the coastal resort of Cancun their countries’ positions on Cuba were now almost identical.

Mexico last year voted against a UN resolution, which was co-sponsored by the Czech Republic and condemned human rights violations in Cuba.

But the Czech foreign minister says his country will now use various forms and platforms to voice its opinion on the situation in Cuba, and is no longer prepared to narrow the human rights issue to Cuba only.

He said it was necessary to work mainly with Cuba’s domestic opposition, which is more moderate than some anti-Castro exile groups based in Miami, Florida.

CZECH-US-PLANES-SANCTIONS

The Czech firm Agroplast, under U.S. Government sanctions since last week over its alleged role in an illegal sale of 40 Soviet-era MIG fighter planes to North Korea, vowed on Sunday to fight back through all the legal channels.

Agroplast director Petr Pernicka said his firm had not engaged in any illicit transactions.

The United States said last week that it had known of the firm’s shady dealings for some time. Officially, Agroplast is registered as a mining and recycling company.

CZECH-GERMAN-EXPELEES

Ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War Two are planning to file a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against various European insurance companies.

Sudeten German spokesman Konrad Badenheuer on Sunday said in Munich that his organisation would be suing for at least 20 billion U.S. dollars in life insurance policy contracts signed before the war in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia – then parts of the Czechoslovak Republic.

He said the suit will be filed in the United States by the end of January.

CZECH-CRISIS-POLL

In another in a recent spate of public opinion polls, the Median polling agency claimed on Sunday that over 80 percent of Czechs believe their country is in a crisis.

More than half of those polled expressed dissatisfaction with their country’s progress since the overthrow of communism 10 years ago, the agency said.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a brief weather report.

Warmer south-western air will continue to pour into the Czech Republic on Monday, bringing along some scattered showers and daytime highs between two and six degrees Celsius.

Early morning lows on Tuesday and Wednesday from zero to minus four Celsius. Frequent fogs. Maximum daytime temperatures on Tuesday between two and six degrees, and on Wednesday up to eight degrees Celsius.

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

29-11-1999