Press Review

The government's approval of a plan to boost the Czech economy, the discovery of the body of a 5-year old girl who has been missing for three weeks, and Czech President Vaclav Havel's visit to the Karlovy Vary international film festival make the main headlines in the Czech papers this morning.

LIDOVE NOVINY is the bearer of good tidings today, saying the Czech crime rate has actually dropped for the first time in six years. But it's not all good news: the paper says that according to figures unveiled by Interior Minister Stanislav Gross on Monday, the percentage of crimes solved by police has also dropped.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports that economic crime accounts for about 80 percent of all losses caused by criminal activities, and that the police are far from successful in dealing with this new type of crime. There has also been a rise in corruption. On the other hand, there are now fewer cases of violent crime, with the notable exception of murder. The paper says the Czech capital Prague remains the most dangerous place in the country.

And it's a murder story which is dominating the headlines this morning - police discovered the body of 5-year-old Tereza Cermakova on Monday evening, in woods near a housing estate in the town of Kladno, just a few kilometres west of Prague. All the papers report that police were finally told where to look by the child's mother Helena, who police say knew more than she was letting on.

Unfortunately it's very much a case of trial by media, with several papers claiming that Helena Cermakova had already admitted killing her daughter. 'Little Tereza Killed By Mother' reads the headline in PRAVO, obviously in no doubt as to Mrs Cermakova's guilt. But the case is far from closed - police repeated on Tuesday morning that Mrs Cermakova had made no such admission and everything now depends on an autopsy.

Moving on now, and PRAVO writes that all Czech households will soon have to buy new TV sets, due to the introduction of digital broadcasting. The paper quotes Transport and Communications Minister Jaromir Schling as saying that there will be a transition period of ten years when TV will be broadcast using both analogue and digital signals, but after that period, analogue broadcasting will be shut down completely.

Meanwhile ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that screening for breast cancer should become freely available from the beginning of next year, as doctors and health insurance companies are currently holding talks to increase access to testing. The new national breast cancer screening programme will allow all women from the age of 45 access to free regular screening. Under current rules, if a woman decides that she wants a test, but her gynaecologist decides otherwise, she has to pay for it herself - around 300 crowns.

A spokeswoman for the country's state health insurance company - VZP - tells the paper that if the talks go well, all insurance companies will begin paying for screening as of January 2002. ZEMSKE NOVINY says 4,500 women in the Czech Republic develop breast cancer each year, 2,000 of whom die of the disease. If more cases were detected in time, says the paper, the number could be reduced significantly.

And finally MLADA FRONTA DNES carries the results of an optimistic new opinion poll, which claims more and more people feel an improvement in the quality of life in the Czech Republic. However, many say there's still much room for improvement, singling out the justice system, the political scene and conditions for young families for particular criticism.