Nuclear fission testing has recommenced at the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Test operations began at Temelin on Saturday, and testing at the plant's nuclear reactor began on Sunday. Temelin was shut down last month following the discovery of cracks on steam pipes in the non-nuclear part of the station. The issue of the Temelin nuclear power plant has severely strained relations between the Czech Republic and neighbouring Austria, which is a nuclear-free country. Following blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings by Austrian environmentalists last autumn, the Czech government agreed to carry out an environmental impact study at the plant, before it begins commercial operations. The shutdown of the plant has further heightened concerns in Austria over safety standards at Temelin, and environmentalists have threatened fresh demonstrations in protest.
On a related note, the European Commission is apparently satisfied with the implementation of the environmental impact study at Temelin, agreed on by the Austrian and Czech governments in December last year. According to unnamed sources, the fulfilment of the agreement is creating trust between the two countries, and should lead to the completion of the energy chapter of legislation in Czech EU accession talks. During the height of demonstrations against Temelin last autumn, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel had threatened to block this chapter, thereby blocking Czech membership of the EU. According to Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, all of the problems souring relations between the Czechs and the Austrians should be resolved by the end of the year.
Czech President Vaclav Havel is apparently recovering well after being released from hospital on Saturday, following almost two weeks of treatment for mild pneumonia and bronchitis. President Havel has had frequent problems with his lungs since an operation to remove a malignant tumour from a lung in 1996. The president fell ill in Kuwait on February 12th during a visit to several countries in the Middle East, and had to be flown to Prague for treatment in hospital. According to a presidential spokesman, President Havel's treatment is progressing smoothly and he will be well enough to meet Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, who is due to arrive in Prague on Thursday.
A police officer is reported to have shot dead two pit-bull terriers after they attacked several people and their dogs in Prague on Sunday. This follows a similar incident on Friday in which another pit-bull, which had been running wild, attacked a couple in another part of Prague. There have been frequent reports in the media recently about attacks on people by dogs. The issue has created public concern, but so far parliament has not been able to agree on ways to control dangerous dogs.
Vratislav Sima, an aide to Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman, is to be charged with slander in connection with an alleged campaign intended to discredit one of the country's most popular politicians, Petra Buzkova, who is a member of the same party. News of the campaign, called Operation Lead, broke last year when a document containing false allegations about Mrs. Buzkova, including collaboration with the communist secret police and child abuse, was leaked to the press. A police investigation apparently led to the computer of one of the prime minister's aide. The man in question accused Vratislav Sima of compiling the document. Petra Buzkova has dismissed the material as "a pack of lies", saying she was shocked that her political opponents could stoop so low. There has been much speculation in the Czech press as to whether members of Mrs Buzkova's own party were trying to publicly discredit her.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday should see partially cloudy to overcast skies, with isolated snow showers. Daytime high temperatures are expected to reach two degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Monday could drop to as low as minus ten degrees Celsius.
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