Press Review

The face of Jesus Christ looks out from the front pages of all Czech papers today - or at least "the closest image yet produced with the aid of computer graphics" by the British forensic scientist Richard Neave.

The "swarthy, coarse-featured man with short beard and hair" has a look of wonderment in his eyes that goes rather well with some of the domestic stories on the front pages. "The sacrificial lamb goes to slaughter" says PRAVO of the resignation of ministerial aide Karel Srba, who has taken the blame for an under-the-table deal on the lease of a building in Moscow, which had the foreign minister's seat shaking under him.

The proponents of the Cabinet's anti-corruption drive have just shown us how they work - find a scapegoat lower down the line, make a deal and close the case, says LIDOVE NOVINY'S Martin Zverina . It will be interesting to see where the foreign minister's gratitude will lead Karel Srba -for there is no doubt at all that he will cash in a reward, the author concludes.

The case of a district court judge who freed 4 young men accused of a racially motivated attack, in spite of a ruling against them by the country's Supreme Court, has evoked a response from Petr Fisher of LIDOVE NOVINY, who writes that many Czech judges do not yet have the courage to take strong action against racist crimes and find it easier to stand up to the Supreme Court that to take radical action against skinheads.

The former human rights commissioner Petr Uhl has a scathing editorial column in Pravo where he has expressed outrage that a man who had served as a former communist censor was now an MP for the Social Democrats. Miloslav Kucera has attempted to wriggle out of the blame by telling the public that only the innocent could throw stones.

Mr Uhl has complied, telling the MP "while you censored the work of Czech music bands I acted as their advocate and am now casting the proverbial stone". The former human rights commissioner says that the Social Democratic Party is even more to blame for allowing Kucera to remain in its ranks. Social Democrat supporters like myself are then forced to accept the chaff with the grain - which leads to loss of ethics and voter apathy, Petr Uhl concludes.

Meanwhile, ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that one of the former communist party officials believed to be co- responsible for the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechosloavia in 1968 will be brought to trial. Vasil Bilak, one of the most powerful men of the former Czechoslovak communist leadership, will be held accountable for the fact that he allegedly signed a letter of invitation asking the communist allies to crush the Prague Spring reforms.

Although Mr Bilak, who is Slovak and will be tried in Bratislava, has questioned the authenticity of the signature, a graphologist has confirmed that it was signed by his own hand. The 83 year old former communist party leader is the only surviving signatory of the infamous letter of invitation. The paper notes that it took 11 years to bring him to trial.

And to end on a positive note, for the first time in its history the Czech Academy of Sciences has a woman for president. Helena Illnerova, or "the First Lady of Czech Science" as the papers have dubbed her, is a respected biologist. The no- nonsense, energetic 63 year old told reporters she'd still go to work on her bike - but she IS making some concessions. "It looks like I'll have to get a new suit," she said.