Daily news summary News Sunday, FEBRUARY 28th, 1999

28-02-1999

Radio Prague E-news Written/read by: Libor Kubik

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-NATO-ACTIVIST-CHARGE

The man who briefly interrupted Friday's ceremony in Prague preceding the country's accession to NATO has been charged with hooliganism but released from police custody pending trial.

Environmental activist Jan Krecek set light to a NATO logo and blew a whistle in protest as President Vaclav Havel was in the process of signing the ratification accords under which the Czech Republic becomes a fully-fledged member of the alliance in two weeks' time.

This is the first time that members of the former Warsaw Pact -- the Soviet-led East Bloc defence organisation which was disbanded eight years ago -- have become members of NATO.

The ceremony was held at Prague Castle and broadcast live by radio and television.

Mr Krecek, a journalist who organised last year's violent Global Street Party in Prague, said on Saturday his aim had been to express his disagreement with the country's accession to NATO.

President Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Krecek had misused his journalistic accreditation. But the Czech Syndicate of Journalists has declared that he has only expressed his political views, to which act he was entitled.

CZECH-NATO-CELEBRATIONS

Celebrations of Prague's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on March 12 will culminate one day later by an army- organised dance ball at Prague Castle under the auspices of President Havel. It was announced on Saturday.

NATO's April summit in Washington, at which the alliance will formally greet its three new members -- the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland -- will be televised live and shown on a giant TV screen in Prague's historical Old Town Square.

A special postage stamp will be issued to mark the occasion.

But a recent opinion poll carried out for Czech Television shows that Czechs remain divided about joining NATO. The poll showed support for NATO membership just under 50 percent, and that around a third of people were against joining the alliance.

CZECH-BOSNIA-NATO-MEDAL

The Czech Army's mechanised battalion serving in Bosnia as part of the SFOR stabilisation force has been awarded a NATO medal for the service to peace and freedom.

The ceremony took place late on Friday at SFOR bases in Donja Ljubija and Bosanska Krupa. The soldiers were decorated in the presence of Army General Staff officer Josef Siba.

More than 500 Czech soldiers are currently serving on peace-keeping missions in Bosnia.

SOCIALIST-CONFLICT

The Central Executive Committee of the Czech Republic's ruling Social Democratic Party ruled overwhelmingly on Saturday against the membership of a regional delegate whom it suspects of poor management of party funds.

Julius Lopata from the party organisation in the West Bohemian town of Rakovnik was responsible for party finances in the early 1990s.

Today's Social Democrat leader, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, has disclosed that Lopata was sentenced four times in the past for embezzlement. Mr Lopata has admitted the Social Democrats indeed sued him for allegedly stashing away 20 million crowns but insists that this charge was never proven.

CZECH-WEATHER

Now a look at the weather -- and Sunday will be a wet but unseasonably warm day in the Czech Republic. Daytime highs between four and eight degrees Celsius.

Monday will be much the same, with nighttime lows around three Celsius, and maximum daytime temperatures from five to nine degrees.

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

28-02-1999