Press Review

Czech daily newspapers today offer their readers the same set of photographs on their front pages. One is of the inauguration of new US president George Bush. Another depicts Karel Loprais, a famous Czech truck driver who has won the prestigious Paris-Dakar rally for the 6th time. Yet another photo portrays a criminal who robbed a bank in Prague on Thursday, shooting dead one of its clients.

The papers also carries moving photographs of Lucie Pilipova, wife of Ivan Pilip who was arrested in Cuba, saying good-bye to her children at the Prague Airport before departing for Havana. "I'll bring papa back," reads the caption in LIDOVE NOVINY.

ZEMSKE NOVINY talks to Czech agriculture minister Jan Fencl about mad cow disease and environmentally-friendly farming. Mr. Fencl makes it clear that the spread of BSE was due to human error and if Britain had not started turning cows into cannibals by feeding them with bone meal, the problem would have never occurred. Us Czechs, he points out, have never done that.

The same paper reports on a worrying increase in the number of accidents on the road after the new Highway Code came into force at the beginning of the year. The paper quotes police officers complaining about how impossible it has become confiscate driving licences - a previously common punishment for serious offences. "Drivers have lost respect for us - they have nothing to fear," one of them says.

MLDA FRONTA DNES prints a shameful report about Central Europe's largest burial ground - Olsanske cemetery in Prague. Broken benches, a rotting chapel gate, graffiti with satanic symbols, litter, excrement - something's very wrong at the cemetery, the paper writes. Cemetery administrators blame drug addicts and homeless people, who seek refuge in tombs, damage property and steal things of value. Priest Daniel Herman told the paper that although such behaviour was sacrilegious, he is convinced that the humiliation of people forced to live this way casts far more shame upon society as a whole.

LIDOVE NOVINY reveals that more and more Czechs consider the Internet as an important part of their lives. The number of Czech Internet users has risen 5 fold from a figure of only 4 percent two years ago. However, 70 percent of Czechs have never used the world wide web and 61 percent don't even have access to a computer.

Some of the Czech dailies also report the unique eye surgery of a 14-year old female baboon. MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that a team of Czech surgeons removed the cataracts from both her eyes, the first operation of its kind in the Czech Republic. Polly, as she is called, used to be the leader of a group of baboons in Brno Zoo, but after losing her eyesight was no longer able to care for her young, and even suffered discrimination against her from other members of the group.