Press Review

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The Czech police preventing anti-globalisation protestors from entering the country, rising prices as a result of the decreasing value of the Czech crown, and new traffic regulations as of 2001. All this and more figure in the Czech papers today. Nick Carey joins me now with Press Review.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY today examines the actions of the Czech border police against anti-globalisation protestors ahead of the upcoming IMF/World Bank meetings in Prague. Thirty protestors have been turned away at the border so far, and some for seemingly trivial reasons. Four of them were refused entry for not having a sticker saying NL on their Dutch-registered mobile kitchen. Both the police and the Interior Ministry say that all that the Czech police are doing is following the strict letter of the law. If foreigners do not meet the full requirements, such as having the correct sticker on their vehicles, they will be refused entry. As a result, some protestors are warning this could lead to border blockades by demonstrators who have been denied entry.

MLADA FRONTA DNES today looks at the negative impacts of the decline of the Czech crown against the dollar. The crown has reached record lows against the dollar, and as a direct result, the prices of imported products that are paid for in dollars, in particular computers and electronic goods, are on the rise. The prices for word processors have gone up by about ten percent this year, the paper quotes a computer wholesaler, and computer monitors by about thirty percent. Another, possibly worse, side effect is that fuel prices will also rise. In the face of possible protests over fuel prices, a weak crown will not help matters in the slightest.

LIDOVE NOVINY discusses the somewhat revolutionary changes that will come into effect for Czech drivers at the beginning of 2001. The lower house of Parliament has passed a law that will give pedestrians priority at pedestrian crossings, mean that drivers will have to keep their lights on in winter both day and night, and outlaw using a mobile phone without a hands-free set. The law was past for the first time in July, but was rejected by the Senate because it was apparently too strict. The new, final version has been welcomed by everyone except the opposition Civic Democrats, who were the only MPs to vote against the law. One Civic Democrat MP quoted by the paper said that parts of the law were discriminatory. The MP objected in particular to a part of the law that says that children under the age of fifteen should wear helmets when cycling. This, he claims, is nonsense.

And CESKE SLOVO today discusses a campaign by a group of Czech doctors who believe that they have found a drug that could help in the treatment of cancer. This treatment has been under development for thirty years, but the team of doctors working on it claim they have been unsuccessful in persuading Czech doctors to test the drug with patients. The team therefore took the step of approaching the media with the story, and as a result, there has been a great deal of interest from medical experts, and cancer patients. One of the team is quoted as saying that the drug has been highly beneficial during operations carried out on patients with malignant tumours, but that more tests are needed. Criticism is levelled at the team of doctors, however, by Deputy Health Minister Antonin Malina, who says that it is unethical to give patients false hope that they may be cured by a miracle drug.