Press Review

The continuing furore over the two Czech citizens arrested in Cuba and further developments within Czech public television make the main headlines today. The incident in Czech Television where striking staff have installed their own director is seen as a highly controversial step which could damage the sympathy the rebel journalists have been enjoying both among the general public and politicians.

Daily PRAVO carries an interview with deputy Prime Minister Pavel Rychetsky, who considers the latest steps by the striking staff as illegal. He admits that the main political parties have already agreed on a respectable personality who could well be appointed acting director to calm the whole situation down. He declined though to reveal the name before parliamentary vote.

Although no case of mad cow disease has been reported in the Czech Republic so far, ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that many parents are exerting pressure on school canteens to stop serving beef to their children. The paper quotes several headmasters who had limited beef meals in their canteens to a minimum, even before the panic about mad cow disease broke out.

MLADA FRONTA DNES visited the North Moravian town of Hranice, which has been making the news over the last several months. Northern Moravia is a region currently experiencing one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, so everyone there has welcomed a decision by Philips to build a factory there. The land, where the factory is to stand belonged to a number of small landowners, who sold their estates to the municipality, so construction could start.

Only one person has refused to sell their land - local hairdresser Marketa Regecova, who, despite an preliminary agreement, started to ask for a much higher price than any of the others were paid. The case has gone to court, where it was ruled that Regecova had a right to hold back, because of flaws in the original written agreement with the local council. Now, the newspaper writes, some see Regecova as a brave fighter against arrogant bureaucrats, others, especially local people consider her a greedy woman who may spoil the creation of thousands of jobs.

And finally, LIDOVE NOVINY analyses the phenomenon of early retirement. Those who retire earlier outnumber those who remain at work until the pension age, even though early retirement is penalised by a lower pension. On the other hand, those who continue to work after having reached the retirement age, receive an extra bonus. And a new draft law suggests that the gap between early and late pensions could widen even more, because early retirements represent an immense burden for the state budget. But who are these people who retire early, LIDOVE NOVINY asks. Josef Trnka from the Czech Social Security Office provides the answer: they are mainly people who lost their jobs just before they reached the retirement age, the long-term unemployed and those who are just fed up with their jobs.