Press Review

Well the decision to suspend controversial British immigration controls at Prague's Ruzyne Airport makes the front pages of all the papers today, coupled with news that the country's third largest mobile phone company Oskar is not applying for a licence - not yet anyway - to operate third generation mobile phones in the Czech Republic. And of course defending decathlon champion Tomas Dvorak's third successive world title in Edmonton also makes the front pages.

But let's start with the lifting of immigration controls at Ruzyne Airport, and MLADA FRONTA DNES publishes the results of a timely poll taken among members of the country's Roma community. It was the arrival of several thousand Roma asylum seekers from the Czech Republic over the last three years that led Britain to introduce the strict measures at Ruzyne, to put an end to what it described as the 'continuing abuse of the British asylum system.' Both the British and the Czech governments say the Roma are mostly economic migrants.

Well the poll certainly appears to challenge that claim - MLADA FRONTA DNES took a random sample of 350 of the 250,000 Roma living in the Czech Republic. Around half of them said they had been the victims of racist violence - and one third of those were in the last six months, the same number said they lived in constant fear, around 70 percent said they had been subjected to racist insults from white Czechs, and one in four said they were considering emigrating from the Czech Republic.

Moving on, and LIDOVE NOVINY reports that Vaclav Klaus's right-of-centre Civic Democrats or ODS are planning to launch their own Internet radio station. The paper says that the party could have the station up and running within months, filling the airwaves with right-wing diatribes and readings from the party manifesto. It might sound as attractive as watching - or maybe even listening to - paint dry, but, says LIDOVE NOVINY, other parties are considering the move as well.

For now, says the paper, Radio ODS will only last the duration of the election campaign, but if it's successful it could become a permanent feature on the Czech political landscape. And, says LIDOVE NOVINY, the party also has plans for an ODS TV station. Don't touch that dial.

'We have nothing to hide,' says the head of the Czech police force, Jiri Kolar, in reaction to new Interior Ministry figures showing a rise in the number of crimes committed by police officers. Speaking to PRAVO newspaper, Mr Kolar denies that crime within the police has actually increased, saying the 30 percent rise in offences is due to better detection by the ministry's inspection department.

Mr Kolar tells PRAVO that crime within the police force undoubtedly damages the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public, but trying to cover up the problem solves nothing. He says he's convinced that public confidence in the police can only be maintained if the police are seen to be addressing the problem.

Well it's problems of a different nature facing the City Police in Prague. LIDOVE NOVINY reports that students have been recruited to help police officers overcome the language barrier with tourists. Students have been posted at the police information booth in Prague's Old Town Square, to help out tongue-tied coppers when words fail them.

But not everyone's happy with the arrangement, least of all the police themselves. "We're being made to look like complete jokers," says one officer who spoke to LIDOVE NOVINY on condition of anonymity. "God knows what these students are doing here. We all know a few phrases. And when we don't know the right words we just use our hands."