Press Review

Today all Czech newspapers report almost exclusively about Tuesday's anti-globalization protests and violence in the streets of Prague. Some even have special supplements devoted to street demonstrations. A PRAVO reporter visited several policemen in a Prague hospital who had been injured during the protests, but the paper notes that they were not very willing to talk. "It was just horrible," one of the policemen said. "The demonstrators were throwing bricks and cobblestones right at us and we had no chance to retreat. Why do you journalists never come to stand among us? You always back the demonstrators, and it is us who look bad in your eyes," the policeman told PRAVO.

Meanwhile HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports that Minister of the Interior Stanislav Gross hadn't expected such severe violence in Prague's streets. At a press conference, Gross expressed his conviction that the Czech police might even have been too tolerant but went on to claim that nevertheless they had done a perfect job. The minister praised policemen for refusing to be provoked and he questioned the validity of claims that policemen threw cobblestones back at the demonstrators. In reaction to a barrage of criticism as to why the police didn't prevent demonstrators from smashing shop windows in downtown Prague, Gross replied: "My people will not fight against demonstrators armed from head to toe".

Other big issues discussed in today's newspapers are the presidential and parliamentary elections in Yugoslavia. ZEMSKE NOVINY predicts that Tuesday's announcement of the Central Election Commission of the requirement of a second round of elections will serve only to step up the already tense situation in Yugoslavia. The West has been backing presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica, writes the paper, adding that Czech President Vaclav Havel was among those who prematurely congratulated him on his victory in the first round. "Let's hope that democracy has triumphed" in Yugoslavia, ZEMSKE NOVINY quotes President Havel as saying.

And finally, CESKE SLOVO writes that the Austrian anti-nuclear activists, protesting against the planned launch of the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant, will not blockade the Czech-Austrian border check points this weekend. However, they are prepared to stage a demonstration in the South Bohemian metropolis of Ceské Budejovice. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel calls on the Czech Republic to take "time for contemplation", in which he hopes the country will clarify if the plant's safety standards meet that of the European Union. CESKE SLOVO quotes the Austrian chancellor as saying that he hopes that his country could influence change in the political and environmental thinking of the Czech Republic.