Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

14-05-2003

Police ready to negotiate with blackmailer

Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has said the police are ready to negotiate with the anonymous blackmailer who has threatened to poison hospital food with cyanide. "Protecting lives is a top priority. We are prepared to do everything in our power to prevent these threats being brought about," Mr. Gross said on Wednesday. The blackmailer has made several anonymous calls to the police -using toll free emergency lines - and threatening to poison hospital canteen food unless he receives 300 million Czech crowns. Strict security measures are in place and the police are keeping strict surveillance on over thirty hospitals, mainly in Prague. Two containers with poison have already been found at Prague hospitals. The police have been given until Thursday to deliver the money.

Health Minister wants Diag Human case reviewed

The Health Minister Marie Souckova says she wants to make the firm Diag Human return the 326 million crowns it received from the Czech government under an agreement shrouded in secrecy. The health minister has made repeated efforts to have the case brought into the open since the agreement stipulates that neither side will disclose any information about the deal. The case dates back to the early 90s when Diag Human reportedly showed an interest in doing business with blood plasma from Czech blood banks. A business proposition reportedly fell through after the then health minister Martin Bojar publicly questioned the firm's reputation. Diag Human threatened charges of slander and in an out of court agreement the government allegedly paid it 326 million crowns. According to Czech private TV Nova the firm has been involved in suspiciously similar cases abroad.

TV Nova's director sacked

Vladimir Zelezny, the head of the Czech Republic's highly successful private TV NOVA has been sacked by shareholders and representatives of CET 21, the company which holds TV Nova's broadcasting license. Mr. Zelezny said he accepts the decision "in view of the damaging campaign led against TV Nova and himself." The station's programme director Libuse Smuclerova will replace Mr. Zelezny on a temporary basis.

US citizens to pay more for long term Czech visas

The cost of long term Czech visas for US citizens has almost doubled. According to the Czech foreign ministry this is a reciprocal gesture, since Czechs are also having to pay more for US visas and the visa-granting procedures have become stricter and more complicated. As of June 1st, US citizens who plan to spend longer than three moths in the Czech Republic will be requested to pay 2,500 crowns for their Czech visa. For a period shorter than 3 months no visa is required for US citizens. Czechs pay 3,000 crowns for a tourist visa to the United States.

Czech Securities Commission operational again

President Vaclav Klaus appointed Petr Musilek and Zdenek Hustak into the presidium of the Czech Securities Commission on Wednesday, ending a period when the market watchdog lacked a quorum needed to make decisions. Mr. Musilek teaches at the Prague School of Economics while Mr. Hustak has been the head of the SEC's securities trading supervision department. The five seat presidium has been incomplete since last spring.

Man killed by lightning

A workman adjusting a television antenna during a storm was struck and killed by a bolt of lightening. The incident occurred on Tuesday night on the roof of a retirement home in Prazmo, in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. Pensioners who were watching a popular evening show complained about bad reception and persuaded the workman to adjust the antenna. The 45 year old man died on the spot.

Weather:

Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers across most of the Czech Republic and day temperatures between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius.

14-05-2003