Press Review

All the Czech newspapers on Thursday report on the dubious way that the Civic Democratic Alliance, a junior party in the centre-right Four Party Coalition intends to pay back its 70-million-crown debt, and on a policeman from the Central Bohemian town of Melnik, who received a suspended sentence for accidentally shooting dead a pedestrian when chasing a stolen car. And there's yet another topic discussed all today's dailies - a secret military hospital for the research and treatment of lethal infections caused by Ebola, plague and anthrax.

Mlada fronta Dnes insists that the new hospital is being built in the village of Techonin in eastern Bohemia. But the location of the unique research centre is shrouded in mystery, and the army does not want to disclose any information about it. While one doctor from the Opava hospital told the paper the locality of the new hospital was generally known among infection specialists, the Head of the Military Health Service, Jan Petras resolutely denied that claim.

The governor of the Hradec Kralove region, Pavel Bradik tried to get more details right from the Defence Ministry, but he was told it was classified information. Despite this, Mr. Bradik is convinced that a top level specialized hospital could be immensely beneficial for his region. Although local people are quoted as expressing fears that they might be infected by lethal bacteria, on the other hand they welcome the fact that there might be more job opportunities in the area, writes the paper.

Pravo informs its readers that during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank session in Prague's Congress Centre in the year 2000, property worth 3 and a half million crowns was stolen from the building. The police are investigating the huge theft - so far in vain.

The Finance Ministry itself has admitted that computers and other technical equipment was stolen despite tight security measures. Surprisingly, controllers have discovered that employees' contracts did not contain a clause about personal responsibility for damage or loss of property, concludes Pravo.

On a political, yet a lighter note, Lidove noviny reports on a pub located outside the centre of Prague, called Master Kelly's Alchemist and Beer Workshop, where Czech right-wing politicians meet regardless of what party they belong to. The tradition of such meetings was established back in 1998 by the advisor to the Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus, Mr. Ladislav Jakl, who is also the most frequent guest in the pub. The paper writes that even those who otherwise only trade allegations in the media, sit at the same table in the pub and are willing to talk to each other.

And finally, Vecernik Praha reports on a petition initiated by residents of Prague's Mala Strana or Lesser Town, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the capital. Residents are urging the Prague 1 town hall to ban cars in the area altogether. They point to the fact that there are so many cars in Prague that there is one car for every two people. But the daily quotes one councillor as saying: 'No cars in Mala Strana? Nonsense!' 35