The Lower House elected on Friday Jiri Balvin as interim director of the Czech public TV network, Czech Television. Mr. Balvin used to work at the station as a director of art programmes, and he'll head Czech TV until the Lower House elects a new Supervisory Board, which will then appoint a new director. Staff members at the television station have been on strike since late December, when the Czech TV Supervisory Board selected Jiri Hodac as the general director of the station, whom journalists accused of political bias. Mr. Hodac resigned in early January following mass demonstrations calling for him to step down.
After his appointment, Mr. Balvin said he was prepared to work with striking journalists. He met them on Friday evening. Adam Komers from the Czech TV Crisis Committee told the Czech News Agency that his colleagues and Mr. Balvin had agreed to end the strike as soon as possible. Shortly afterwards Mr. Balvin dismissed head of news Jana Bobosikova from her post and withdrew the notices of dismissal the striking journalists had received from their former management. A forensic audit by the British Pricewaterhouse-Coopers company will also be carried out at the station.
As of next week, an international mission of nuclear safety experts, sent to the Czech Republic by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, will carry out three weeks of safety tests at the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The mission has been invited to carry out the tests by the Czech government. The last tests at Temelin were carried out in February 2000. This year's mission will check how the plant's workers abide by operational and safety regulations, and it will also evaluate the ability of the electricity company CEZ, which is in charge of constructing the plant, to conduct operations safely. The mission will include nuclear energy experts from eight countries.
Meanwhile, Austrian anti-nuclear activists are threatening further blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings, claiming that the Czech government has not complied with an agreement signed by the two countries' prime ministers in December. As part of the agreement the Czech prime minister promised that an environmental impact study would be carried out at Temelin.
The Czech police have detained sixteen people accused of church robberies committed in Western Bohemia from 1998 onwards. More then 20 churches have been robbed during the last three years, with damages estimated at 8 million Czech Crowns. But a spokesman for the West Bohemian police force said that not all the perpetrators had been caught and that the estimated sum was not final. Some members of the group were detained earlier this week in Pilsen, when apparently selling more than 16 church sculptures worth 50 thousand German marks.
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