Anti-globalisation demonstrators to protest fellow activists' imprisonment
Anti-globalisation protestors are set to hold a demonstration in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague on this the last day of the IMF-World Bank meetings. The demonstrators, whose numbers have dropped to roughly 2000, aim to protest against the imprisonment of their fellow activists. Police have detained some 600 people so far in connection with Tuesday's and Wednesday's demonstrations. Over 120 of those detained are foreigners, some of whom were taken to holding cells outside of the capital. More than a dozen people have been charged so far for attacking public officials, hooliganism and property damage.
The Citizens' Legal Patrol, or OPH, which had been monitoring and documenting legal rights' violations during the demonstrations surrounding the meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Prague, has revealed materials allegedly pointing to the presence of police provocateurs among protestors. At a press conference on Wednesday, the group presented videos, eye-witness accounts and other materials documenting the violent activities of people who were later allegedly able to easily pass through police blockades upon showing identification. According to the group's spokesman, Marek Vesely, OPH is gathering evidence of such activities and will present it to the Interior Ministry for investigation.
Two journalists and an advisor to the prime minister, Milos Zeman, have been charged in the case surrounding the alleged attempt to discredit the deputy chairwoman of the lower house, Petra Buzkova, dubbed "Operation Lead." Jiri Kubik and Sabina Slonkova of the Mlada fronta Dnes daily, who broke the story of Operation Lead earlier this year, have been charged with abetting the crime of slander by refusing to reveal the identity of their source. The paper published excerpts of materials allegedly originating from the Prime Minister's office and aimed at discrediting the popular Social Democratic MP. The third person charged is Vratislav Sima, an advisor to Prime Minister Milos Zeman. Mr. Zeman had originally denied any involvement of the Government Office in the incident.
The chairmen of the coalition of four small right-of-centre parties will mark the St Wenceslas holiday by signing an agreement on closer co-operation. The agreement will follow up a similar one signed one year ago at this time and will entail the first founding document of the coalition. It should also lay down the dates for the election of a joint leader, a shadow cabinet and regular joint meetings of the respective parties' parliamentary caucuses. The coalition was formed following the June 1998 elections in response to the power-sharing pact between the two largest parties - the Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party. The two largest partners in the coalition are the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.
Delegates at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Prague have ended their session a day earlier than planned. Thursday's activities will now consist purely of concluding press conferences. According to the president of the IMF, Horst Koehler, the main theme of the Prague meeting had been finding ways of making globalisation work for everyone, and overall, delegates had been more in agreement than previously. Both Czech and IMF and World Bank officials have denied that the early termination of the meetings was connected to Tuesday's demonstrations.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has added its support to those countries acknowledging the victory of opposition candidate Vojisalv Kostunica in Sunday's presidential elections in Yugoslavia. The Czech Ministry has also supported the recent French initiative calling on the European Commission to dismantle sanctions against Yugoslavia. According to the Ministry's press office, preliminary results and high voter turn-out clearly point to the Serb citizens' desire for change and democritisation.
The advisor to the Czech Minister of Environment, Dalibor Strasky, has told an Austrian weekly that the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia still does not meet the required safety standards and would not be allowed to operate in the West. Mr Strasky criticised the allegedly uncontrolled, "Russian-style" original construction of the plant and said that even today no guarantee exists that all of the appropriate controls have been carried out. A catastrophe could occur there at any time, he told the paper. The first reactor of the plant is set to be activated in the coming weeks as criticism and attempts to block the launch from the Czech Republic's neighbours, primarily Austria, intensify.
Transport and communications minister, Jaromir Schling, will decide next week whether to heed lorry drivers' demands for announcing a state of crisis in road transport and implementing corresponding extraordinary measures. Four unions of lorry drivers presented a joint solution for tackling rising fuel prices to the government last week. The proposal included calls for price regulations, road tax breaks and cuts in highway fees.
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