Daily news summary News Friday, JUNE 16th, 2000

16-06-2000

CZECH-BANK-FORCED ADMINISTRATION

The Czech central bank on Friday imposed forced administration on the troubled Investicni a Postovni Banka -- or the IPB Bank. The first reports speak about a rapid deployment force unit wearing masks and touting automatic rifles storming the bank's headquarters in central Prague's Senovazne Square.

The Czech National Bank says that savers had nothing to fear.

Earlier this week, the Prague Stock Exchange suspended trading og IPB's shares after worried customers withdrew almost 10 billion crowns from the bank.

CZECH-TV-RESIGN

Czech Public Television's head of news Zdenek Samal tendered his resignation on Thursday, citing professional reasons and fears for the media's political independence.

The organisation's top management denied in a press release on Thursday that the station's programming is being influenced by political pressures from outside. The television explained that the recent sacking of the anchorman of a weekly discussion roundtable show "High Noon" was motivated by his poor professional standards and not by the outcomes of his last show hosting Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus.

But some press reports have suggested that calls for the anchorman to be fired have come from at least one of the politicians.

CZECH-PARTY-POLITICS

The Freedom Union, a right-of-centre Czech opposition party, has disbanded its Brno organisation and all its branches.

The move, taken after an overnight meeting on Friday, follows allegations about serious internal strife in Brno and reports that both rival camps recruited fictitious members to pad up membership statistics.

Party leader Karel Kuehnl says a commission led by Senator Jan Ruml will examine the possibility of reforming the Brno organisation.

The Freedom Union is a member of a coalition of four centre-right opposition parties.

CZECH-JEWISH-PROTEST

Fourteen more Orthodox Jewish protesters demonstrated and prayed on Thursday at a downtown Prague construction site where a 13th century Jewish burial ground was unearthed last year.

Police imposed fines against nine of the 14 protesters when they refused to obey orders to leave the site where the Ceska Pojistovna insurance company is building its new headquarters.

The site on Prague's Vladislavova Street has been at the centre of a controversy between the insurance company, the Czech government and Jewish groups after bones were discovered there last year.

The burial site on Vladislavova Street, not to be confused with Prague's famous Old Jewish Cemetery, is believed to be one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.

CZECH-KOREA-SUMMIT

The Czech foreign ministry has welcomed the agreement reached by North and South Korea in Pyongyang earlier in the week.

The ministry said on Thursday that this historic summit marked a new stage of relations between both states and expressed hope that it would help ease tensions not only on the Korean peninsula but also throughout the Far East.

Earlier, President Vaclav Havel described the agreement as a breakthrough.

CZECH-ROMA-REPORT

The European Roma Rights Centre says Czech schools have made good progress since being the subject of a formal complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Two months ago, the Budapest-based ERRC filed an application on behalf of 18 Romany children, accusing the Czech state of perpetuating racial discrimination and segregation in its education system.

All 18 children from the North Moravian city of Ostrava were taken out of the mainstream school system and placed in special schools for the mentally retarded.

But the ERRC spokesman Markus Pape said on Thursday he was pleased that the Czech government had proposed a new type of test to determine which children belong in special schools. The ERRC believes that the current tests are culturally and linguistically biased against Romanies.

On Wednesday, the Czech cabinet approved a package of proposed legislative remedies designed to help Czech Romanies integrate into mainstream society over the next 20 years.

CZECH-SENATE-CHECHNYA

Members of the Czech Senate Foreign Relations Committee have criticised the Council of Europe for failing to adopt sanctions against Russia over human rights violations in Chechnya in spite of recommendations issued by the European Parliament.

The Senate Committee's chairman Michael Zantovsky told reporters on Thursday that some of his colleagues had accused the Council of Europe of applying double standards to the issue of human rights.

CZECH-RUSSIA-PIPELINE

Czech engineers have launched the construction of a two-billion-crown gas pipeline in Russia's Far East.

The 230-kilometre pipeline will connect gas fields with Kamchatka's capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

Czech Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Vaclav Petricek said on Thursday that the contract had gone to the Plynostav company of Pardubice, working in conjunction with the Skodaexport trading corporation. The project is being funded by the Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Bank.

CZECH-SOCCER-NEMEC

Football -- and Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved announced he will be fit to play in his side's Euro 2000 group D match against France on Friday.

Nedved was substituted on Sunday after sustaining an ankle injury in the Czechs' 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands on Sunday.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Friday will see the arrival of cold air from the northwest. We expect scattered showers and thunderstorms at night and a cloudy day with maximum temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

Saturday will be a wet day here in the Czech Republic, with early morning lows between three and seven degrees and afternoon highs from 16 to 20 degrees Celsius.

Sunday's highest temperatures around 22 degrees, somewhat warmer in the western parts of the country.

16-06-2000