Daily news summary News Saturday, JANUARY 30th, 1999

30-01-1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to you from Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik in Studio 23 and here's the news.

TENNIS-KORDA-WIN

Czech tennis star Petr Korda won his appeal on Friday to block the International Tennis Federation from attempting to have him suspended following a positive dope test at the Wimbledon tennis championships last year.

London's Hight Court ruled that the ITF were not legally entitled to go ahead with their challenge but gave them leave to appeal.

Lawyers for the Czech player had argued that the ITF did not have the right to challenge a decision by its own appeals board.

CZECH-SPYMASTER-SCANDAL

The Commission supervising the activities of the Czech civilian counterintelligence service BIS has asked Prime Minister Milos Zeman to explain why his cabinet has removed the agency's director Karel Vulterin.

The decision was announced after a marathon six-hour meeting on Friday.

The commission heard Minister without Portfolio Jaroslav Basta, the sacked director Vulterin, and the agency's interim chief Jaroslav Jira.

It said there had been serious discrepancies in the testimonies of those invited.

Vulterin was removed from his top post in the BIS agency at a government session late on Wednesday after the cabinet of Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman cited "intolerable shortcomings" in his work.

Cabinet sources have since said that Mr Vulterin has failed to inform the government of an Iraqi terrorist plan to blow up the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe, and that he has paid unwarranted bonuses to his friends in the BIS.

CZECH-BUDGET-OPPOSITION

The main opposition Civic Democratic Party ODS has attacked the Ministry of Finance for having disclosed too late that the state budget deficit will be much higher than announced earlier.

The ODS said on Friday that if the ruling Social Democrats go on criminalising normal economic activities the economic figures for this year may be even less favourable.

A few weeks after the Social Democrat budget was endorsed by parliament, the government admitted that the GDP will not grow as fast as expected.

CZECH-QUAD-AGREEMENT

Daniel Kroupa, leader of the extra-parliamentary Civic Democratic Alliance ODA, said on Friday that the Christian Democrats' decision not to sign a coalition agreement with his and other two centre- right parties was not going to threaten the further existence of the four-coalition.

The ODA, the Freedom Union, the Democratic Union and the Christian Democrats teamed up in advance of November's Senate elections in an effort to offset the power of what they saw as a collusion between the ODS and the ruling Social Democrats.

The Christian Democrats said earlier this week that they would not accept any conditions which would commit them to vote in agreement with the other three coalition partners.

CZECH-EU-CHARTER

Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla warned on Friday that if parliament declines to ratify the Social Charter of the Council of Europe it will send clear signals to the EU about its unwillingness to adopt European standards.

Spidla said the refusal to sign would be a political blunder easily comparable to rejecting membership in NATO.

The adoption of the Social Charter requires the agreement of three fifths of all members of the lower house and the equal proportion of the senators present at the time of voting.

Spidla said there were indications that conservatives were unwilling to ratify a document which embodies the universal right to work.

CZECH-SOCCER

Football -- and the Czech Republic's coach Jozef Chovanec on Friday named Lokeren striker Jan Koller -- the top scorer in the Belgian first division -- in his squad for next Tuesday's friendly against Belgium in Brussels.

Our correspondent says that if Koller is picked, it will be his first full international cap.

CZECH-FLU-EPIDEMIC

There were no signs of a let-up on Friday of the flu epidemic which has affected all regions of the Czech Republic this week. Prague's chief hygiene officer Vladimir Polanecky said that there now was an almost 31 percent increase of respiratory ailment cases in the city over last week.

Friday's figures revealed that more than 30,000 people have come down with the flu this week in the city with a population of just over one million. Every fifteenth child in the age group up to five years has the flu.

An unusually mild weather in January is seen as a major factor, the health officer said.

CZECH-WEATHER

Talking about the weather -- the balmy days are over and the intrusion of cold Arctic air into Central Europe will continue throughout the weekend.

Saturday's nighttime lows will be a chilly six to 10 below freezing and on Sunday, between minus seven and 11 Celsius.

Daytime highs between four and eight below zero.

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

30-01-1999