Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

01-12-2003

Gripen offer considered best deal

A commission of experts has advised the Czech government to accept Sweden's offer of Gripen fighter jets to replace the Czech Republic's aging fleet of Soviet made MIG-21s. The commission assessed five offers in all. The US, Belgium, and the Netherlands offered second-hand F-16 planes while Canada competed with its two-engine F-18s. Sweden got the edge over its rivals by offering brand new places at a leasing price ten percent lower than the threshold put down by the Czech Defense Ministry. The Czech government is to make a final decision by the end of the year. If the proposal is approved 14 Gripen jets will replace the aging MIG 21s in 2005.

Miners protest against reduction of benefits

Several hundred miners at the black coal mine Paskov, North Moravia went on a twenty minute strike on Monday in protest against a planned reduction of state guaranteed social benefits for miners. A spokesman said the protest was not aimed against their employers but against the government. Coal miners are calling on the Cabinet to keep in force a regulation that guaranteed them generous financial compensations upon retirement or switching to surface work. The regulation, introduced in 1991, was cancelled in November. The protests are likely to spread. Miners at the Mostecka Uhelna mining company in North Bohemia are threatening to go on strike this Friday and there are rumblings of discontent from other coal mines in the Czech Republic.

RFE to cease broadcasting in seven languages

The Prague-based Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty is preparing to cease broadcasting in seven European languages. RFE president Thomas Dine announced in Prague on Monday that language services broadcasting to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia would close on December 31st, 2003, under a directive from the White House. The reasons given were cuts in funding and the need to address new challenges in troubled areas of the world.

Agrarian Chamber questions BSE safety measures

The Agrarian Chamber is planning to protest against the mass slaughter of animals in connection with BSE safety measures. Farmers complain that current regulations on BSE safety result in the slaughter of an excessive amount of cattle. The last two positive cases of BSE alone resulted in the slaughter of over 1,000 head of cattle. The Agrarian Chamber and Czech farmers' associations feel that this could be remedied without endangering consumers and plan to send a petition to Brussels, asking for the respective regulations to be reviewed.

Government to issue more state bonds

The government is planning to issue state bonds worth almost 140 billion crowns, or more than 4.5 billion USD, next year. The bonds will mainly be used to finance the expected state budget deficit. The total amount of Czech state bonds will exceed 600 billion crowns or 20 billion USD.

High court confirms long prison sentences for policemen

A high court has confirmed long prison sentences meted out to three former police officers who were found guilty of trying to re-sell confiscated heroin. The high court in Olomouc confirmed rulings by the regional court in Ostrava which sent officer Stanislav Mozga to nine years in prison for selling 5 kilograms of confiscated heroin. His superior received an eight year jail sentence and another police officer involved 5 years in prison. Mozga and his superior allegedly ordered 80 kilograms of confiscated heroin to be destroyed, but left more than 5 kilograms untouched, and attempted to sell it later for more than 5 million crowns.

Weather:

Tuesday is expected to be another grey and overcast day with temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.

01-12-2003