Press Review

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Most of the Czech papers today carry front-page photos of Jan Rehula, who clinched the country's first medal on Sunday at the Sydney Olympics, taking the bronze in the triathlon. "Two kilometres before the end I said to myself--I can't give up now", says Rehula in an interview with Pravo today. Speaking to Ceské Slovo, meanwhile, he says he timed his tempo perfectly and saved his resources for the final straight-away. And he told Lidove Noviny that he wasn't worried about a challenge from Kazachstan's world-number-one Dmitri Gaag: "I took no notice of him at all," he tells the paper. You might have the feeling the Czech media are pretty excited about their country's first medal, and why not I say. Just wait for tomorrow and the response to the country's first gold.

Turning now to the fuel crisis, Lidove Noviny leads with Czech Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik's suspicions that petrol distributors have organised themselves into cartels to keep the price of fuel artificially high. The paper reports that Minister Mertlik wants the Czech anti-monopoly authority to investigate claims that the distributors have signed secret deals on the price of fuel. Meanwhile Ceské Slovo writes on its front page that governments around Europe have given in to the lorry drivers and are meeting for talks. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman will talk to the truckers, continues the paper, but he's ruled out the possibility of reducing the tax burden on fuel.

Staying on the roads, and staying with Ceské Slovo, the paper says that pedestrians will not enjoy absolute priority over cars, as, it claims, is common in most developed countries. The new law, it writes, merely requires drivers to slow down at crossings and stop in a fashion which guarantees the safety of pedestrians. Ceské Slovo also says that pedestrians must always give priority to trams. Well I don't know about you, but I always make sure I give priority to trams.

Welcome to Prague, says Czech National Bank Governor Josef Tosovsky in Mlada Fronta Dnes today, in a personal message to delegates of the IMF/World Bank meeting. The decision to hold the session in Prague was of great symbolic importance to the Czech Republic, he says, claiming that the decision was the two institutions' way of praising the Czechs for the results of economic transformation in the early 1990s. It hasn't all been plain sailing since then, writes the Governor, but the economy has turned a corner and is back on the up. Let's do everything we can to ensure that the Prague session of the IMF and World Bank goes down in history as a place of friendly atmosphere, open dialogue and productive negotiation.

And finally, the Czechs have joined the ranks of computer hackers around the world, says Lidove Noviny, by creating a new computer virus. Proud, or current, as the virus is known, has been developed by two high-school students in Brno, who use the Internet pseudonyms Benny and Ratter. It is so far capable of disabling Windows 2000, and the two hackers claim that it will soon be just as effective on Windows NT, used by vast numbers of companies. Benny and Ratter defend their actions by saying that when they develop a virus, they introduce it into software companies via the Internet, in order to demonstrate the weaknesses and deficiencies of the software available. They say that it is not them who are responsible for any damage caused, but software distributors for creating faulty products. According to Benny, this is not the last the world will hear of him.