Press Review

In the absence of any really important domestic news, all the papers today stay with the drama unfolding in the icy Barents Sea, where a nuclear-powered and most probably nuclear-armed Russian submarine lies crippled 100 metres under the surface, its crew trapped in the cold and darkness. Both MLADA FRONTA DNES and LIDOVE NOVINY note that after days of hesitation and several unsuccessful attempts to rescue the hapless sub by means of a special diving capsule, the Russian Navy has reluctantly begun to probe the possibility of formally asking two NATO countries--Britain and the United States--to lend a helping hand.

On the home front, PRAVO reports today that the Ceske Budejovice prisoner, caught by a hidden prison camera having sex with his female lawyer, is being held in custody in connection with a series of grisly contract killings associated with the light-fuel-oil case, which stirred a lot of public attention in the early 1990s. Having sex with a suspected killer may be an aggravating circumstance for the lawyer, who faces disciplinary action and probably also losing her right to practice. PRAVO quotes a senior solicitor as saying that although, strictly speaking, sex behind bars is not against prison rules, this is simply because nobody actually thought of it when formulating the codes of penal servitude. The paper notes that the case of the lusty lawyer with an apparently insatiable appetite for inmates is now being tackled by the National Bar Association. She has also reportedly had sex with the same man before, during earlier visits, but the whole affair would have passed unnoticed if somebody had not checked the tapes in the hidden camera.

LIDOVE NOVINY predicts that Czechs will have to rescind some of their favourite gourmet foods and drinks because these delicacies are not up to the hygiene standards set by European Union bureaucrats in Brussels. Throughout Europe, the EU has blacklisted soft cheeses such as Italy's Mozzarella, France's Camembert or the goat-milk Feta cheese, which is a staple food in Greece. Now, the Czechs' smelly Olomouc cheese is likely to follow suit, together with the pungently pickled sausage called utopenec, or "drowned man", and the typically Czech variation on the theme of goulash, which is never served fresh in Czech pubs because this speciality only acquires its proper taste after many sessions in the microwave. Both foods are good for you if you are a certified beer drinker, but EU hygiene officers apparently find them disgusting. Or take Czech rum, which is not rum at all because, the EU maintains, rum is made of sugarcane and not fermented potatoes and artificial flavouring.

Picture this, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES: Midnight. Armed guards raid a seaside hotel. Half-naked Czech tourists are led away in chains. They are herded into police vans and driven off to a lice-infested provincial jail. Wild imagination? An act of terrorist madness? No, quite the opposite: a very real threat for Czech tourists who choose Montenegro as a holiday destination. Montenegro is still part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which doesn't admit Czech tourists without visas. Czechs entering Yugoslavia without visas are technically breaking the law. Yet very few Czech travel agencies selling holidays to Montenegro inform their customers of this minor detail. Of course, they argue that Montenegro is so starved of tourism revenue that the local authorities are quite benevolent. But what could happen if the Yugoslav police decided to stop being so benevolent right in the middle of the summer season?