January 14, 2001

2 Czech politicians detained in Cuba

                  PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Two Czech politicians have been detained in
                  Cuba while on a private visit, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

                  Former Finance Minister Ivan Pilip, who now sits in parliament, and Jan
                  Bubenik, member of a Czech pro-democracy foundation, were detained on
                  Friday in Ciego de Avila, 300 kilometers (187 miles) southeast of Havana, the
                  ministry said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

                  There was no official explanation, said the statement, but according to unofficial
                  information from Cuban police, the two were detained for having allegedly met
                  with unidentified members of Cuba's opposition.

                  They were transferred to the Cuban capital of Havana, where they remain in jail.

                  "The Foreign Ministry considers the detentions groundless and incompatible with
                  principles the Czech Republic as well as other democratic states profess," the
                  statement said.

                  It said all necessary steps are being taken by the Czech side to secure their
                  immediate release.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.