Maintenance crews at Temelin are preparing to put the controversial nuclear power plant back in trial operation. After a three week break for repair work the plant's reactor is to be put into a final phase of trial operation at the end of this week. There will be tests at 75, 90 and 100 per cent of full power in preparation for the start of commercial operation scheduled for the end of January 2002. Meanwhile, a second shipment of nuclear fuel bound for Temelin crossed Poland by train under tight security and reached the Czech border early this morning.
Meanwhile, in nuclear free Austria anti-nuclear activists are putting increasing pressure on the governing coalition to take a united stand against the Temelin power plant and veto Czech EU membership if the plant goes into full operation. While the Freedom Party is in favour of taking a tough line with Prague Chancellor Schuessel's conservative People's Party insists that dialogue on maximum safety standards is the best possible solution. Anti-nuclear protesters peacefully ended a 30 hour occupation of the People Party's headquarters on Tuesday when it became clear that they could not force a change of policy from the Chancellor's party. There has been speculation in Austria that this controversy could even bring down the governing coalition. According to the CTK press agency the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and the Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer held an unscheduled meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, but both officials refused to confirm speculation that they had discussed the Temelin controversy.
The Czech Radio and Television Council is looking into the question of whether the Czech Republic's smallest commercial TV station TV3 is currently putting out pirate broadcasts and whether the station's license holder RTV Galaxy is fully in control of the situation. The move comes in the wake of an investor dispute at TV3 which led to an end of standard programming and a partial blackout. TV3 continues to put out programmes available to cable and satellite subscribers which the stations' license holder Martin Kindernay has refused to take responsibility for. If the Radio and Television Council concludes that the station is putting out pirate broadcasts the TV3 company and the investor company EMV could be fined up to a million Czech crowns.
The Czech football coach Josef Chovanec has resigned in the wake of the team's failure to qualify for next year's World Cup finals. The Czech team was eliminated last Wednesday after a second 1-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium in a two-legged play-off. Under Chovanec's reign, the team lost 27 out of 45 matches. A successor has yet to be named possible candidates are Under 21 team coach Karel Bruckner and Ostrava manager Josef Jarabinsky.
In a highly publicized political dispute, the Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus told journalists on Tuesday that he was not violating parliamentary democracy by refusing to submit to the Senate the original amendment to a controversial bill. Mr. Klaus is now embroiled in a very public controversy with members of the opposition Four Party Coalition who are threatening to take the matter to the Constitutional Court if the bill is not submitted in its original form. The lower house revoked the bill an amendment to the Commercial Code -two weeks after it was approved on the grounds that it was allegedly confusing and contained mistakes. The Four Party Coalition says this is illegal and wants the Constitutional Court to set a precedent on such cases.
Court verdict on former body guards A court in the west Bohemian town Pilsen has set free two former border guards who shot dead a man attempting to escape from communist Czechoslovakia in 1977. The two men were charged with causing grievous bodily harm resulting in death and faced a prison sentence of up to 12 years. In a closely watched trial the judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove that the former body guards had intended to hit or kill the man they pursued. The accused said they only fired warning shots and it was also not clear who shot the bullet which hit and killed the twenty year old as he fled under cover of darkness. The state attorney on the case has not said whether she will appeal the verdict.
In its annual report on drug abuse in Europe the European Commission warns of the increasing number of young people experimenting with amphetamines or so called "rave" drugs in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic and Slovenia top the table of central and east European states in the number of 15 and 16 year olds who take "rave" or "party" drugs. In the Czech Republic it is allegedly one third of the teenage population. The post communist countries have become target states for the drugs mafia in recent years. The report says that since 1995 the number of teenagers taking drugs in this part of the world has doubled and there has been a sharp increase of locally produced amphetamines. The most popular drugs are marihuana, ecstasy, LSD and various amphetamines.
We can expect a cold night with overcast skies, sleet or snow showers and temperatures dropping to minus 4 degs C. On Wednesday, morning fog should give way to bring partly cloudy skies, some drizzle and intervals of sunshine.
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