Press Review

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The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has a dream, says today's LIDOVE NOVINY. He wants to be a second Peter the Great. A strong Russia where Western civilisation prevails over Byzantine attitudes appears to be his lifetime goal. But it seems he's running out of inspiration, the paper notes. His great role model didn't hesitate to get his hands dirty when building his new naval fleet and didn't think twice about jumping into stormy waters in order to save a sinking ship. Not so Mr Putin, whose leadership was reduced to a short trip on board a submarine and who then escaped from the Arctic storm over the lost pride of Russia's nuclear submarine fleet and went on vacation in the sunny south. The great tsar was tough on himself and on others but appreciated good ideas. Putin is also tough on his administration. So tough in fact that his trembling bureaucrats find it impossible to put pen to paper and come up with ideas on how to save the dying crew of the Kursk. Maybe that's because Peter was a statesman from birth, whilst Vladimir rose to the top almost over the broken skulls of his potential rivals, LIDOVE NOVINY notes.

MLADA FRONTA DNES compares Britain's green light to the cloning of human embryos to the Spanish court's approval of Christopher Columbus's expedition to India and to the day when the United States released funds for the development of the atomic bomb. Scientists, the paper writes, have taken the first step on a long journey which could end in gold and diamonds but also perilous quagmires and ferocious beasts. No-one can tell as no-one has ever tread this road before. What's more, this could be a pilgrimage to the very essence of humanity, at the end of which there might be the homunculus of men and women without families or biological background. Pessimists cry stop or we all shall die. Realists know there's no stopping now. Alright, so be it, if we are all to die, we'll die by our own hand, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

Prague is bracing itself for an invasion of world economists and anti-globalisation protesters next month. There are strong indications of a showdown between police and rioters, and as today's LIDOVE NOVINY points out, the U.S. Government is scared enough to advise American tourists to avoid Prague in the last week of September. All it takes now is for Germany, France, Italy and other Western nations to follow suit. Prague's streets will be wonderfully empty and nothing will prevent the armies of Stanislav the Great--the paper's nickname for Interior Minister Stanislav Gross--from dealing firmly with rioting youths. He's a great strategist, LIDOVE NOVINY notes. He sees nothing unusual about the American warning. It'll help him kill three birds with one stone. He will keep order in the city, preclude possible bloodshed and disgrace should a few foreign tourists sustain grievous bodily harm, and go down in history as the most militant Czech interior minister on record, the paper notes.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY warns that beer prices in the Czech Republic could soon go up by a third because of this year's poor hop harvest and serious shortage of malt--two ingredients that make Czech beer what it is, arguably the best in the world. And, to add insult to injury, there are very few plums on the trees, from which the famous Moravian slivovice brandy is distilled. That's a bad omen for Moravia's countless distilleries. But maybe it's just as well. A) Czechs drink too much as it is and, B) the European Union believes that the Moravian plum brandy should not be called slivovice or slivovitz, as it is much too potent, made with too richly flavoured plum mash, and has high-quality alcohol added to it in the last stages of fermentation.