Press Review

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Away from politics. Over to scandals, sex and drugs. That's the main trend on the front pages of virtually all Czech papers today. The silly season is in full swing. Here's Libor Kubik with a review of Thursday's press.

The case of a female defence lawyer caught by a hidden video camera in the act of having sex with her client behind bars in a Ceské Budejovice prison may go to court, reports today's MLADA FRONTA DNES. That's because it's against the law to monitor or tape lawyer-client meetings, which are considered confidential. The paper says that a fellow lawyer, Miroslav Krizenecky, a former military prosecutor, has filed a suit over the case. Another daily, PRAVO, quotes a district attorney as confirming he has taken on the case. Mr. Krizenecky maintains in an interview for MLADA FRONTA DNES that he is determined to press the case at the Constitutional Court or even, if need be, at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It is not clear who seduced whom but as Krizenecky points out, what happens between lawyers and their clients, albeit behind bars, is as sacrosanct as the secret of the confession.

And staying behind bars, consider how easily you could wind up in jail these days. ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that a young man may be facing up to two years behind bars for putting up a leaflet advising readers how to avoid just that! The incident happened in the North Moravian town of Jesenik last February. Twenty-three-year-old Miroslav Pihlik's pamphlet instructs those interested in how to dodge prosecution if they grow, smoke or sell pot. The text actually comes from an article by the outspoken publicist Jiri X Dolezal, the enfant terrible of investigative journalism, and it has appeared on the Internet and in Hustler magazine. Mr. Dolezal said in a recent interview that the police should have investigated him, and not the unfortunate bill poster. The police said they were forced to investigate after Mr. Pihlik was sued by a group of local right-wing radicals, explains ZEMSKE NOVINY.

But politics does make a brief appearance in the papers today. CESKE SLOVO reports that the board evaluating the standards of public Czech Television have ordered an analysis of the station's news and current-affairs programming in order to ascertain exactly how much airtime is given to individual parties and whether the time allotted to political broadcasts is apportioned with impartiality. This, the paper notes, comes in the wake of Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal's complaints that Czech Television is not as objective as befits a public service medium. Mr. Kasal complained this week that in a recent discussion programme on farming, the station had the agriculture minister from the ruling Social Democratic Party, two farming experts, two members of parliament for the Civic Democratic Party, which has a power-sharing pact with the Social Democrats, but nobody from the opposition! The rage of angels--that's how best to describe the Christian Democrat leader's frame of mind.

And finally today, LIDOVE NOVINY points out that Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the head of the Czech Catholic Church, was right when he said last week that the Church in this country was facing an identity crisis. His grim pronouncements were nicely underscored when a priest was arrested, reportedly for molesting and sexually abusing young altar boys. The paper says the latest incident has rekindled an old conflict between liberals and conservatives in the Church. Catholic elders have issued a formal apology for the behaviour of Father Frantisek Merta, describing him as a disgrace to the Church. According to Catholic Priest Tomas Halik--a popular man and, of late, also a political animal--scandals of this type sometimes escalate internal crises within the Church. Michaela Freiova from the Civic Institute, who represents the conservative wing, told LIDOVE NOVINY she feared a renewed witch hunt similar to the one the Church was subjected to in the Stalinist era. On the other hand, Priest Ivan Stampach, who left the Catholic Church some time ago in protest against the stifling atmosphere there, believes the Olomouc Archbishopric ought to have responded vigorously to the first signals that something was rotten in Father Frantisek's parish, and not wait for a young cleric to go public about the scandal.

Author: Libor Kubík
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