Daily news summary News of Radio Prague


Czech anti-chemical unit boosted to full contingent

The Czech Republic has sent 70 soldiers to Kuwait, bringing the country's anti chemical and biological weapons unit up to a full contingent of 360. The unit has been based in Kuwait since March, working alongside U.S. troops. The U.S sent an official request to the Czech government in January, asking for the anti-chemical unit to be boosted. The Czech parliament approved the request, as well as a measure saying that in the case of an Iraqi attack using weapons of mass destruction, the unit could respond without a new U.N. resolution.

Havel under fire over Iraq on last working day at Prague Castle

Three days before he steps down as President, Vaclav Havel has come under fire over his public support for United States policy on Iraq. Mr Havel added his name to a list of seven European prime ministers who published an article supporting the U.S. The article, published throughout the world on Thursday, has highlighted deep divisions in Europe over the issue. Several politicians have criticised Mr Havel for failing to consult the government before signing the document. The Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, said he himself did not sign it because the country's position on Iraq was already clear.

Czech Statistics Office head resigns after Eurostat report

The head of the Czech Statistics Office, Marie Bohata, has resigned after the statistics body of the European Union - Eurostat - concluded that her office bore partial responsibility for a gross miscalculation of last year's economic indicators. Eurostat said the Czech Statistics Office and the Czech Customs Authority were both responsible for the release of erroneous foreign trade deficit figures for the third quarter of 2002. The accounting error - involving a sum of well over 1 billion dollars - forced a total re-evaluation of the Czech economy, including public finance and interest rates.

Cleanup underway at fire-damaged castle

A major cleanup of the 16th century Zahradky Castle was underway on Friday, following a serious fire. More than 40 firefighters spent all of Thursday night battling the blaze at the castle, near the town of Ceska Lipa. No one was hurt, but firemen estimate that damage could exceed 3.5 million dollars. The blaze is believed to have begun in the attic of the four-story structure, causing the roof to collapse through the upper floors.

Weather forecast

Saturday will be a cloudy and cold day, with snow forecast for many parts of the country. Temperatures in the daytime will range between -7 and -3 degrees Celsius.