Press Review

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All of today's papers feature the surprising rise in the country's GDP, a growth rate higher than that of the USA, the European Union, as well as neighbours such as Poland and Hungary. All papers also report on the mysterious disappearance of five-year old Tereza Cermakova.

PRAVO reports that the search continues without any clues as to the whereabouts of the five-year-old. Tereza, disappeared last Wednesday from a local playground in a housing district close to the Central Bohemian town of Kladno. With the girl now missing for six days, a new intensified search was launched with a team of 600 police officers. The possibility that Tereza just wandered away from her mother has been ruled out, police instead believe that she has either been abducted or was the victim of a traffic accident. 548 young children have been reported missing in the Czech Republic so far this year.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that most Czech contract and assistant professors in the field of humanities are forced to work other jobs on the side. Due to their extremely low salaries, young academics often take on other types of employment to support their families. Experts warn of an impending crisis in higher education and believe that if the conditions for newly qualified professors do not improve soon, nobody will be teaching in ten years. LIDOVE NOVINY reports that professors often moonlight as translators, editors and dealers with foreign companies.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a fresh wave of neo-Nazi violence in Prague. Over the last week, fighting has broken out at various locations around the city. Last Saturday fighting broke out at a party in the Prague Smichov brewery, where ten people were injured. The paper notes that alcohol had more than likely contributed to the skinheads' aggressive behaviour. This most recent attack comes on the heels of another violent scene outside a popular city night club, which saw seventeen skinheads questioned and several dangerous weapons confiscated. Last year, police recorded 364 racially motivated criminal acts.

Today's HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports on allegations made by the relatively new tabloid "Super", which claims that the Czech military intelligence service acquired information on the current ambassador to Russia, Jaroslav Basta while he was holding the post of Minister without Portfolio. As Minister without Portfolio, Mr. Basta co- ordinated the work of the various intelligence departments and the paper says that it was during this time that the then Chief of the Military's intelligence service, Frantisek Stepanek, gave an order for Mr. Basta to be spied upon. The agent used to acquire the information is believed to have been Karel Srb, the former General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY goes on to say that Czech MP's were shocked at the news and quotes Civic Democrat Jan Vidim as saying that he saw some truth in the allegations and has called on the Parliament's Defence and Security Committee to look into the matter. The paper furthermore quotes him as saying that it was alarming to see that the military intelligence service had managed to gather information about a top state representative. The Minister of Defence, Jaroslav Tvrdik is also not taking the matter lightly and has formed a special team to investigate the case, the paper writes.

LIDOVE NOVINY also announces that the first commercial to feature product bashing made its appearance in Czech advertising yesterday. Czech law formerly prohibited competition in commercials, but as of this January, a paragraph allowing comparative advertising was incorporated into the commercial law code. Companies, however, have to follow certain conditions, ensuring that product-bashing will not be as aggressive as it is in the United States.