Press Review

In its front-page editorial, LIDOVE NOVINY comments on the relativity of historic memories and experience. Older journalists and commentators often comment on past events presuming their audience knows the happenings in detail including the background. However, experience is not transferable, and today's young generation has a similar attitude to the 1968 events as the then young generation had to the important battles of World War One.

Today's MLADA FRONTA DNES unveils new facts in the case of the former head of the economic counter-intelligence service, Evzen Sirek. Sirek was removed from office after allegations that he transferred secret information to his home computer. However, as MLADA FRONTA DNES found out, Sirek was removed just hours before he was about to launch an investigation of large-scale fraud in one of the biggest Czech banks, Ceska Sporitelna. According to the newspaper, his other problem was that his Bureau of Investigation had been gathering evidence about the ruling Social Democratic Party's tax evasions and dubious sponsorship donations.

According to Jan Keller in today's PRAVO, when the Czech Ministry of Interior gave advice to Czech citizens how to behave when they encounter anti-globalisation protesters during the forthcoming annual session of the IMF and World Bank in Prague, the ministry forgot to advise them how to behave when they meet with some of the 15 thousand bankers and financiers. As the author points out, it is not advisable to mention former Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceaucescu, because the World Bank and IMF lent him more than 2 billion USD between 1974 and 1982. Likewise, It is not a good idea to talk about the Philippines dictator Marcos or other heads of former military regimes in Asia and Latin America who were generously financed by the two institutions. Some say that the IMF and World Bank had been supporting dictators and military regimes in order to suppress Soviet influence. Then, Jan Keller stresses, someone should tell them that the Soviet Union no longer exists.

The business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports that an increasing number of Czechs are retiring earlier than at the official retirement age. This is to escape from the poverty trap caused by long-term unemployment or extremely low wages. Even though they receive a lower pension because of early retirement than they would otherwise, it is still higher than unemployment benefits. The newspaper considers this to be the main problem of the current pension system which, according to experts, would have collapsed if it was not subsidised from other chapters of the state budget. Unfortunately, the proposed reform for the pension system still counts on money transferred to the system from other sources, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY points out.