Press Review

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Saturday's anti-IMF demonstrations dominate the headlines in all Czech daily newspapers today.

MLADA FRONTA DNES points out that the true sense of the annual meeting--world poverty--has escaped the public's attention, due to the loud debates over security measures in Prague, and measures such as shuttered shop windows, policemen on every corner and snipers on the roof of the Congress Centre. The paper also complains that just as the public's sympathy with the financiers was running out, news emerged about the prestige the Czech Republic was gaining and the billions of crowns it would earn from hosting the annual session. However, the Czech Republic is not going to be mentioned during the session at all. And if so, then only in the sense that it no longer belongs among those countries that need support, and should therefore be obliged to help the poor countries.

LIDOVE NOVINY carries a photograph from a demonstration organised by Czech communists which took place on Saturday in Prague. The picture shows a young man carrying a red flag and wearing an outfit with his version of the Communist symbol--a hammer, a sickle and a gun.

And inside the paper, today's LIDOVE NOVINY leader comment says the many different groups of protesters included communists calling for the nationalisation of private capital. The paper points out that the Czech Republic heard that call before--after the communist takeover in 1948. There followed a general decline in society, culture, and the economy and heavy pollution of the environment. The paper says it's a positive thing that other protest groups refused to join the communists on their march through the city, comparing their ideology to fascism.

Jiri Bigas in ZEMSKE NOVINY is convinced that protests against the IMF and World Bank are only a facade, and the demonstrations, whether organised by communist, anarchist or nationalist extremists, serve mainly as an opportunity to shout out slogans and little else. Most of them are young people, but there were also faces of some Communist MPs. Perhaps they forgot that their party, hand in hand with Soviet Bolsheviks, also supported dictatorships in Africa and Asia with money and weapons, not giving a damn about hungry children, poverty and illiteracy.

Today's PRAVO quotes a young German activist who lives in Prague, as saying that it is no surprise that the weekend's demonstrations were attended by only a handful of people. The reason is that the bulk will arrive on Monday night, just hours before the main protests on Tuesday which will be part of the so-called Global Action Day. He expects some 50 thousand people from around the world to arrive in Prague.

And finally, Vaclav Zak in the business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that institutions such as the IMF and World Bank are necessary to eliminate the negative impacts of globalisation. Unfortunately, Zak points out, the two institutions suffer from the 'disease of the generals'--they only know how to win the last war. Instead of pushing for an abolition of the IMF and World Bank, we should call for transparency and openness. In the first place, they should exert pressure on all countries to observe the rules of the game, namely in environmental protection, social system, free market principles and fighting corruption.