Daily news summary News Sunday, JANUARY 31st, 1999

31-01-1999

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

CZECH-NATO-INVITATION

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has formally invited the Czech Republic to join the alliance. The invitation by NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana has been extended also to Hungary and Poland.

In letters to the foreign ministers of the three new NATO states, Solana said the 16-member alliance had ratified the expansion and it was now simply a matter of them depositing the protocols of accession with Washington, the keeper of the treaty.

This is expected to be done in early March. The three states, which are also candidates to join the European Union, will become part of the alliance well before its 50th anniversary celebration at the end of April in Washington.

The three states must now write the NATO treaty formally into their statute books. Leading Czech officials have welcomed the good news.

CZECH-USA-RADIO

The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry has withdrawn an earlier statement that it wants compensation from the United States for over one billion dollars in business lost due to U.S.-sponsored broadcasts to Iran and Iraq from Prague.

The ministry's spokesman has withdrawn his earlier statement according to which Minister Miroslav Gregr would ask the cabinet on Monday to request compensation as part of a government-ordered report on the impact of the broadcasts.

Spokesman Jaroslav Hudec was at once fired .

Radio Free Iraq and a Farsi-language service for Iran were created by the U.S. Congress last year in order to support democratic forces in the Middle East by beaming news and comments from the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe.

CZECH-ACTIVIST-POLICE-LAWSUIT

A leading Czech human rights activist is suing the police for assaulting him and holding him illegally after an incident in a Prague restaurant.

The government's human rights aide Stanislav Penc said on Saturday he was brutally assaulted by police on Wednesday and was taken into a two-hour custody. The incident happened when he and another noted activist, Kumar Vishnawathan, were dining out. Penc said they were physically assaulted by uniformed police without identification tags.

The police said Penc was drunk and could not produce identification papers.

Both activists are members of the newly appointed Government Council on Human Rights. The incident happened a few hours after the council's inaugural session.

CZECH-FLU-EPIDEMIC

A wave of influenza is hitting hundreds of thousands of people from the Czech Republic to Russia's Pacific Coast.

Officials in the Czech Republic have proclaimed a country-wide epidemic with two of every 100 people hit by a flu virus. In Prague alone, doctors report the incidence of no less than seven different strain of the virus.

Schools were closed in some regions and hospital visits were barred. Officials say that inoculations have proved ineffective as more and more people were suffering from respiratory problems.

The flu has hit hard Radio Prague, too. That explains unscheduled programme changes this weekend.

TENNIS-KORDA-VERDICT

Czech tennis player Petr Korda on Saturday welcomed his victory on Friday at London's High Court which blocked the International Tennis Federation from attempting to have him suspended following a positive dope test at Wimbledon last year.

He said he hoped that was the end of the matter.

A statement released by Korda's lawyers said he was pleased that the English High Court has accepted that the ITF does not have the right, under its own rules, to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

CZECH-FIGURESKATING-WOMEN

Figure skating -- And Maria Butyrskaya of Russia won the gold medal on Saturday in the women's event at the European championships in Prague.

Yulia Soldatova of Russia won the silver and another Russian, Viktoria Volchkova, took the bronze. The Czech Republic's Veronika Dyrttova finished 20th.

SOCCER-CZECH-KUWAIT

Football -- and the Czech coach of the Kuwait national team has resigned citing family reasons.

The Arab Times newspaper reported on Saturday that Milan Macala, who led Kuwait to win two consecutive Gulf Cup tournaments, had submitted his resignation to the Kuwait Football Association.

Macala said he needed rest for several months in his home country and wished to remain with his family after 17 years of foreign coaching work, the last six in Kuwait.

The Czech trainer came to Kuwait six years ago to coach the Kazma Club team. After a brief stay with that club, Macala was hired by the KFA with the aim of rebuilding the national soccer team.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, a quick look at the weather. Sunday will be another freezing day in the Czech Republic, with nighttime lows dropping to between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius below zero, and where the skies clear up during the night, to an abysmal minus 16.

Monday will bring more snow showers, nighttime lows between five and nine Celsius below freezing, and daytime highs between minus six and minus three degrees Celsius.

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

31-01-1999