Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

21-02-2004

Coalition party leaders to debate on EU commissioner on Monday

The leaders of the ruling coalition parties shall meet on Monday to discuss who should represent the country in the European Commission, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has announced. The government suffered a diplomatic setback on Friday when its candidate, Social Democrat MP Milos Kuzvart, said he was no longer interested in the post. Mr Kuzvart withdrew his candidacy for a lack of sufficient support from the government, especially from the Foreign Ministry. According to Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach, the Czech Ambassador to the Council of Europe Vlasta Stepova would be a suitable candidate for the post in the European Commission. Petr Mares, leader of the Freedom Union - a junior coalition partner, also agrees that Mrs Stepova meets the requirements.

Journalist, dissident and politician Jiri Ruml dies

The respected journalist, publicist and former dissident, Jiri Ruml, has died. Mr Ruml lost his long and hard battle against cancer on Friday night, at the age of 78 years. The father of former Interior Minister and Senator Jan Ruml is mainly known for his active engagement in the underground dissident movement in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a spokesperson for the Charter 77 human rights manifesto and co-founder of the samizdat paper Lidove Noviny. In the early 1990s, he headed a parliamentary commission to investigate the StB Soviet-era secret police forces and was honoured with a Medal of Merit by former president Vaclav Havel in 2001.

Regional governors: Czech Republic not ready to draw money from EU funds

The Czech Republic has done little to be able to use the European Union's structural funds after it joins the EU in May, the country's regional governors claim. They blame the central bodies of the government administration for failing to set the rules for drawing financial aid from EU funds. Frantisek Dohnal, governor for the Jihlava region, says he and his colleagues still lack the necessary documents and the money to co-finance individual projects. Experts have agreed that the Czech Republic will not be able to use the whole sum on offer.

Extremists protest against imprisonment of fellow far-right skinhead

Some forty far-right activists gathered in front of the Justice Ministry on Saturday for a silent protest against the imprisonment of a 22-year-old skinhead. Vlastimil Pechanec was found guilty of stabbing a 30-year-old Romany man to death in a club in the town of Svitavy last year and was given a 13-year jail sentence.

Weather

Sunday will have overcast skies with rain and snow in places. Temperatures are expected to rise to reach a maximum of 6 degrees Celsius.

21-02-2004