Press Review

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The Temelin nuclear power plant is now a steady fixture on the country's front pages and on Monday reporters had fresh developments for readers to digest.

"President Havel in favour of a referendum! Vaclav Klaus against!" the headlines proclaim. Lidove Noviny's Daniel Kaiser notes that although few politicians can resist making political capital from controversy, their arguments are highly unconstructive. "At this stage both gentlemen are doubtless aware that it is much too late for a re-think about an investment which has already swallowed up billions of crowns. What they say will make no difference except to their own image." Kaiser notes. Meanwhile, Pravo has expressed amazement that given the fuss over Temelin nobody is sparing a thought for the Soviet-designed Dukovany nuclear power plant, which is currently operating in southern Moravia and has certainly not been upgraded by the latest Western technology.

Mlada Fronta Dnes has pursued some investigative reporting of its own and claims to have documents indicating that the Russian mafia used one of the Czech Republic's largest banks, Komercni Banka, for laundering dirty cash. The paper claims that the Austrian-based, Russian-born entrepreneur Barak Alon, whose fictitious business deals the bank financed, losing eight billion crowns in the process, was linked to Russia's two biggest mafia groups. The paper expresses surprise that the police investigation now underway is not following this money-laundering trail but is only concerned with corruption among the bank's management which was responsible for the aforementioned billion-crown loans to Alon.

Meanwhile, Slovo has highlighted the need to implement reform of the pension system since the state's inability to cover pension expenditures has already incurred a 10-billion-crown debt. Given the unfavourable demographic trends, things will only get worse in coming years, the paper notes, and wonders what on earth can be taking the social affairs minister so long. Zemske Noviny notes that with elections coming up in two years time there is a possibility that this Cabinet is in no hurry to undertake the difficult task of reforming the pension system. Meanwhile Mlada Fronta Dnes says that the life of a Czech pensioner is not rosy. While Western pensioners enjoy expensive holidays at exotic locations the Czech pensioner is glad when he can afford out-of-season tours around the Czech Republic.

And finally, on a more positive note - this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is already proving to be a huge success. The organizers say there's record attendance this year and some excellent movies to chose from. Chief organizer Jiri Bartoska proudly told Lidove Noviny that while people go to Cannes to be seen they come to Karlovy Vary to watch movies.