Czech top officials on Friday marked the 55th anniversary of the Prague Uprising against Nazi oppression, paying homage to the memory those who lost their lives in the last days of the SWW. Around 30,000 people spontaneously joined the freedom fighters in the Czech capital and there are memorial stones in various parts of Prague bearing the names of those killed in skirmishes with the Nazis. Czech Radio was at the center of the revolt, and one of the commemorative ceremonies took place outside the radio building . It was attended by war veterans, Prague mayor Jan Kasl, and government and Parliament representatives.
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has responded to an angry protest note from the Russian foreign ministry which accuses President Havel of undermining Russian integrity and justifying terrorist actions by Chechen separatists. He is alledged to have done so by telling the Czech daily Lidove Noviny that Chechnya had not always been a part of Russia, and that Chechens should be allowed to decide in a referendum whether they wanted to remain a part of the Russian federation. Although the President's spokesman has not responded to the protest, Prime Minister Zeman told newsmen on Friday that he considered Chechnya to be an integral part of Russia, regardless of how long that state of affairs had lasted. He refused to comment on the matter further.
At the start of a meeting of European Social Democrats here in Prague, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping who heads an umbrella group of European Socialists, said that the Union's expansion to Eastern Europe would strengthen not weaken the alliance. " We want to strengthen our Continent socially, culturally and economically, Scharping said , adding that the Social Democrats were convinced that EU integration is necessary to fight xenophobia, racism and intolerance. The Social Democrats' panel debate on European integration is attended by leading Social Democrat representatives from around Europe.
Interior minister Stanislav Gross on Friday met with President Havel to brief him about plans to reform the police force and report on preparations for the IMF and World Bank session to be held in Prague this autumn. He expressed some concern that there was not enough coordination between individual state institutions preparing for the event and said that the police force had been equipped with upgraded technology rather late, but that everything was being done to make up for the lost time . 18,000 official guests are expected to attend the session and an estimated 20 thousand anti-globalization activists are expected to descend on Prague for a "counter-session" of their own. 11 thousand policemen will be involved in securing law and order.
Finally a look at the weather: according to a long-term forecast the unseasonably warm and sunny weather is staying with us until the middle of next week. In any case the weekend will bring sunshine and temperatures between 23 and 27 degs C. An umbrella might come in handy though as there is a mention of afternoon heat-storms.
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