Press Review

The buzz in today's papers concerns an important Peugeot-Toyota deal confirmed on Thursday, which will see a new car assembly plant built in the Czech town of Kolin by 2005. Hospodarske noviny writes that the investment is worth almost one and a half billion US dollars, which will be the largest investment ever in the Czech Republic.

According to the paper the new manufacturer will offer three thousand new jobs, and will aim to produce more than 300,000 cars a year. But while many see the investment as a positive development, Mlada fronta Dnes warns that the new investment should not have a moral downside, pointing to cases of political pressure exerted on a Kolin resident to sell land needed for the plant.

Also, the paper writes the terms for the investment are not exactly fair, saying that Peugeot-Toyota will enjoy the benefits of tax exemption, while it will be up to the Czech Republic to buy the land for the new site, as well as to train the plant's future employees. Some food for thought there.

Biking these days? Crazy in Prague, unless you have no other choice like the bike courier on the cover of Prazske Slovo. The daily writes that road conditions have been calamitous especially in central Bohemia, which has seen multiple accidents in recent days.

Most of the accidents have taken place on smaller roads, swamped by snow or icy conditions. But you have to feel for that guy on the bike, peddling away through the storm...

Snow also covers the pages of Lidove noviny, although that paper's lead story is of an entirely different nature: the legal scandal surrounding Frantisek Chvalovsky, the former head of the Czech Football Association.

Chvalovsky and a highly placed bank official have been charged with fraud concerning shady bank loans. The paper writes that the bank official is suspected of having helped Mr Chvalovsky illegally obtain 1.5 billion crowns, at a time when he already owed hundreds of millions in loans. He has been remanded in custody since the spring, and currently awaits trial.

Pravo writes that the final word is in on the name of Slovakia's new TV station and that word is JOJ - which means joy, or excitement in Slovak: the name was revealed by controversial Czech media magnate Vladimir Zelezny on Thursday.

According to the paper, Mr Zelezny confessed he made up his mind on the name when he heard that Joj was a form of exclamation used by Slovak women during orgasm. Hospodarske noviny writes that the Slovaks generally see the arrival of the new commercial station as a positive thing.

And finally, Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes carries a story on how Jezisek, the Czech baby Jesus visits even famous Czechs with gifts and presents: featured are President Havel and his wife Dagmar, and Ivan Hlinka, the famous hockey coach, with his wife.

Dagmar Havlova says she will buy the president some brand-name ties this year, along with an Art Nouveau bowl for his writing desk. Classy.