Press Review

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Preparations for the IMF and World Bank annual meeting and a reform of the state administration dominate the headlines in the newspapers today. Here is Vladimir Tax with today's Press Review.

Today's MLADA FRONTA DNES unveils a case of international money laundering involving some of the Czech Republic's banks. The newspaper claims that the Russian mafia used Komercni Banka and the IPB bank to launder money from multi-billion-dollar loans provided to Russia by the International Monetary Fund. The transactions were part of the massive money laundering operation through the Bank of New York, one of the biggest cases of money laundering in the United States in recent years. MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes a policeman who wished to remain anonymous, who said that suspicious transactions between the Bank of New York and some Czech banks are still going on.

LIDOVE NOVINY says that IMF executive director Horst Koehler has given the Czech authorities a lesson in democracy. He did not come to see the armed forces gearing up to do battle with demonstrators, but to seek ways to communicate with opponents of globalisation. That is why he met not only the most senior state officials, but also representatives of non-governmentasl organisations, showing an unusual degree of humbleness -- for a banker.

Today's PRAVO writes that autumn in the Czech Republic is bound to be pretty hot, whatever the weather forecast will be. First of all, 15,000 bankers and financiers arrive in Prague in September, coming face to face with twice as many opponents. Another important event will be the Senate elections, when one third of all senators will be replaced. And finally, there will also be regional government elections, the first ever in the Czech Republic. This, according to PRAVO, is the far most significant event, as people will be able to elect their local representatives who will be delegated a great deal of power from the central government.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY mentions demands by some Roma leaders for Romanies to be declared and recognised as a "nation with no state" by the European Union, the United Nations and other bodies. The newspaper quotes Emil Scuka, the newly-elected president of the International Roma Union, as saying that Romanies feel they are being left out of increasing prosperity in European countries. Scuka also said Romanies had a dream, the same dream as Martin Luther King.