Press Review

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With the start of the official programme of the IMF/World Bank session in Prague on Tuesday, all the Czech dailies concentrate on this international event, much feared by Prague residents. More in Wednesday's Press Review with Alena Skodova and Rob Cameron:

"Yesterday's calm in Prague may precede the coming storm against the financiers," reads one of the titles in today's PRAVO. The paper says that despite Tuesday's opening of the official programme of the session, there was not a single sign of anti-globalisation activists in Prague's streets. The only clue to indicate that something important was happening in Prague was the number of policemen patrolling the city's streets. "Don't be mistaken," one of the policemen told the paper, "this might be just the calm before the storm. We'll be seeing massive and highly dangerous demonstrations in the days to come." Hundreds of demonstrators who have already arrived in the Czech Republic are scattered in farms surrounding Prague. They plan to arrive in Prague only when the first protests begin on Friday, says PRAVO.

But the event does seem to be having a negative impact on the capital's everyday life. LIDOVE NOVINY writes that some of Prague's hospitals have postponed scheduled operations. The paper says this will force many patients, who had already undergone all their pre-operation tests, to go through the ordeal again. The first demonstrations aren't expected to take place until the end of this week, but hospitals have already postponed some operations, and doctors and nurses have had to cancel their holidays. The majority of Prague hospitals have reserved beds for injured demonstrators and they have been gathering supplies of medicines and blood to cope with a crisis, reports LIDOVE NOVINY.

And the IMF/World Bank session is seen from yet another angle by MLADA FRONTA DNES. "Border controls discourage Germans from trips to the Czech Republic," reads one headline in the paper. Many hotels in western Bohemia are apparently deserted. Tightened border controls for the session have discouraged German tourists from nipping across the Czech border, even if it's only for a cheap lunch and a pint of beer in a Czech restaurant. The mayor of the holiday resort of Bozi Dar told the paper that while Prague was likely to profit from the session, the border towns would most probably see losses amounting to hundreds of thousands of crowns.

And finally, away from the IMF. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports on a recent debate in Parliament on the so-called Screening Law. The law, which prevents former high-ranking communists and collaborators with the communist secret police from holding important posts in the state administration and public institutions, will soon become invalid and right-wing MPs have been fighting for the law to be extended indefinitely. They say they want to protect institutions from those who enjoyed strong ties with the totalitarian regime, says HOSPODARSKE NOVINY.