Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start as usual with the headlines:
Havel - Innsbruck
Czech president Vaclav Havel, who underwent surgery for the third time on Tuesday, is making progress, doctors in the Innsbruck University hospital have said. An eventual tracheotomy discussed earlier this week by the medical team appeared not to be necessary for the time being, chief surgeon Ernst Bodner told journalists. Doctors also said that the president, who had an abscess on his abdominal wall opened by surgeons on Tuesday, would be awakened from artificial sleep within the next few days. Mr. Havel has been kept under sedation since last Saturday. There still is "considerable risk" of further complications, but the pacient's temperatures have dropped back to normal, said Karl Lindner, head of the intensive care unit. The first lady, Dagmar Havlova, who has been at her husband's bedside for the whole week, told journalists Havel was able to understand her when she was talking to him. President Havel, who had part of one lung removed in an operation for cancer in December 1996, was admitted to hospital while on holiday in Austria last week with a perforated intestine.
The latest opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Institute shows that 67 percent of Czech citizens are not satisfied with the behaviour of political parties before the early parliamentary elections due to be held in June. 22 percent of those asked expressed reservations towards some political parties, while 28 percent of respondents feel disgusted. 34 percent said they were most dissatisfied by the Civic democratic party and for 21 percent, the most unpopular party was the ultra-right Republicans.
The Pensioners for Life Securities party intends to restore, by the year 2000, the real value of old age pensions to its 1989 level. The party will also aim for pensions to be increased by a sum that would fully compensate for inflation when the inflation rate is 5% or more, and after the year 2000 it wants a 13th old age pension at the end of the year that amounts to 7000 crowns. The party also intends to put through the idea of free health care for pensioners. Party leader Eduard Kremlicka has announced this platform at a press conference in Prague. If the party wins the five percent of the vote it needs to make it into parliament, it will push to have representation at the Health ministry, the Ministry of labour and social affaris and the Ministry for local development.
The Czech republic's accession to the North Atlantic alliance has been discussed on Thursday in the committees of the Czech Senate. The standpoint of the Committee for foreign affairs, defence and security will be the most important. Its negotiations are attended by Czech Foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy. Regarding the fact that the traditional opponents of our membership in NATO - the ultra-right Republicans - have no representation in the Senate and there are only two communists here, it is most likely that the upper chamber will approve this move in the committees and at a session due to take place on April 30th.
A grenade has exploded on a balcony outside the flat of a 35 year old entrepreneur in the Moravian city of Ostrava. Three windows were broken and the living room was damaged, but the four persons sleeping in the flat were uninjured. The damage amounts to 20 thousand crowns, and the case is under police investigation. The investigator has filed charges against an unknown perpetrator for rioting and damaging other people's property. The attack seems to be a result of entrepreneurs, settling their accounts, the Moravian police spokeswoman told the CTK news agency.
And finally a quick look at the weather: we expect mostly clear skies in the Czech republic today, with only scattered rain showers in the East, and afternoon highs between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.
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