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Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 01:29 GMT 02:29 UK
Prague braces for IMF protests
Dutch Wim Vrij is denied entry
A number of foreigners have been denied entry
By Ray Furlong in Prague

Police in the Czech capital, Prague, have launched the biggest security operation since the fall of communism ahead of the arrival of delegates for International Monetary Fund and the World Bank meetings.

The streets around the conference centre have been sealed off and police roadblocks have been enforcing new traffic restrictions in the area.

A bank in the so-called security zone
Businesses near the conference centre have been boarded up
Residents of what is called the "security zone" have been given special permits to enter, but shops in the area have been closed and boarded up.

The Czech authorities are planning to deploy 11,000 police with 5,000 army troops standing by during the meetings, amid fears of violent demonstrations similar to those against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle last November.

Denied entry

Many pensioners and schoolchildren have even been sent on holiday to areas outside the capital.

There has also been a security clampdown at the border, causing long queues at some points.

Several anti-globalisation activists have been refused entry to the country.

Groups protesting against the IMF are highly critical of these measures and have compared them to communist-era practices.

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has tried repeatedly to calm the atmosphere down and has been stressing the fact that it is an honour that Prague was chosen for the conference.

It is the first time the IMF has met in a former communist country.

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See also:

30 Nov 99 | Business
Protests disrupt trade talks
23 Mar 00 | Business
Growing row over IMF role
24 Sep 99 | The Economy
Reforming the IMF
13 Apr 00 | Business Basics
The IMF and World Bank
16 Apr 00 | Americas
Protesters rally round common enemy
13 Apr 00 | Business
The World Bank defends itself
15 Sep 00 | Business
World Bank, IMF gear up for Prague
18 Sep 00 | Business
Debt protest stepped up
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