Press Review

The name Zelezny has been dominating the Czech papers for some time, and today it's not only the head of the commercial TV station Nova, Vladimir, but also his namesake Jan, the famous athlete, who's making the headlines.

The three-time Olympic javelin champion, Jan Zelezny has been voted Czech athlete of the year - for the seventh time, followed in second place by the decathlon stars Tomas Dvorak and Roman Sebrle. "This is the first time I'm actually disappointed to have won. I would have voted for Roman Sebrle," the athlete said in an interview with Mlada fronta Dnes.

It is justifiable that the public should know about the case surrounding Vladimir Zelezny and the role the TV station Nova has played in the development of Czech society over the last few years. However, the fact that political parties comment on the matter is rather unfortunate, says the daily Pravo in a commentary. According to the paper, it may appear as an attempt to influence the investigation.

Hospodarske noviny asks rather light-heartedly just who is Vaclav Klaus going to meet next? Mr Klaus, the head of the Civic Democrats and speaker of the lower house, met the TV magnate only four days after Mr Zelezny was released from police custody, to discuss the need to prevent businessmen from "becoming the victim of political campaigns and media scandals". What if Mr Klaus now chooses to meet a suspected hitman to discuss the need to protect his business? asks the paper.

Lidove noviny notes that the suspicion of manipulation lingering over the Zelezny case has proved real. Facts don't matter; Vaclav Klaus trusts Mr Zelezny and therefore he will support him publicly in the course of the investigation, says the daily, pointing out that since Tuesday everybody knows what political interference in the legal system means.

The Prague daily Prazske Slovo notes that Mr Zelezny's spokesman and Mr Klaus' advisor have each given a different version to the press of whether the two men had spoken about Mr Zelezny's legal case. In such a situation people have every reason to wonder what the two men have in common. For instance, in 1997 TV Nova accused the head of the Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus of owning a villa in Switzerland. Mr Klaus threatened to sue the TV station for libel for 100 million crowns but the lawsuit never materialized. The matter was settled by an out- of-court agreement, the details of which have never been made public, says the paper.

Most papers feature the dispute between the environment minister Milos Kuzvart and the owner and manager of a ski resort in the North-Moravian mountain resort of Jeseniky, Josef Figura. Mr Kuzvart has ordered the owner of several ski lifts to close down one of the lifts and shorten another one in order to protect the unique environment against the devastation inflicted by skiers and snowmobiles.

The owner says the state is damaging his business and he's ready to take the matter to court. Environmentalists are prepared to do the same as they think Mr Kuzvart has picked on the wrong lifts. Mlada fronta Dnes quotes the minister as saying that if kept in a good shape the resort will attract more visitors in the summer. The paper concludes that the environment minister Milos Kuzvart would make for a better minister of summer sports.