Press Review

"Millions of dollars have been drained away from the Czech Republic," reads a headline on the editorial page of the daily PRAVO. The paper points to the fact that enormous sums, in some cases approaching a million dollars, have been illegally removed from the country by foreigners with permanent or temporary residence permits in the Czech Republic. Customs officers at Ruzyne airport in Prague have been registering such cases since 1998, and have found that it's mostly Vietnamese traders who are trying to smuggle the hard currency to their home country. But - the Czech police say - such huge sums cannot originate from the sale of textiles, which is the main activity of the Vietnamese here. A senior police officer has confirmed to the paper that an investigation was currently going on to find out whether the Vietnamese money does not come from criminal activities such as the sale of drugs. "By selling textiles, cheap alcohol and cigarettes a Vietnamese trader could not earn tens of thousands of dollars - even in a hundred years," the investigator noted. The Czech police spokeswoman, Ivana Zelenakova, told the newspaper that the activities of the Vietnamese community are also under close scrutiny by the economic counter-intelligence service. The remaining ten percent of persons detained trying to smuggle hard currency outside the Czech Republic included Russians, Chinese, Algerians but also Czechs, writes PRAVO.

MLADA FRONTA DNES ponders over the fact that in the Czech Republic a family with three children is not considered a 'normal' family. For instance, when you go to Prague's Zoo, says the paper, you'll be forced to leave one of your offspring at home so as to be able to buy a family ticket, which only permits two children. You go on holiday by sea: with a decent travel agency your first child will have a free air ticket, the second will travel for a substantially reduced price but you'll have to pay full price for the third one. Also in many Skodas, the most popular car on Czech roads, there's only enough room for two children's car seats, and it's quite a problem to squeeze in the third one. The official statistics say that two thirds of Czech married couples intend to have two children at the most. Three children in a family is pretty much an exception. Only every tenth woman in the Czech Republic gives birth to three children, and there's no hint that the situation is about to change, says MLADA FRONTA DNES.

What may appear to be quite an astonishing story is an article in CESKE SLOVO which states that, according to the medieval astrologer Nostradamus, the end of the world should have come on the last day of July in the year 2000! Foremost Czech astronomer, Jiri Grygar, a sworn opponent of astrology, says: "Nonsense. Nostradamus was the biggest quack of the second millenium!" And Prague people seem to be taking a similar stance towards the predicted Doomsday, CESKE SLOVO writes. At 8 p.m. tonight, at the giant pendulum at Letna, there is to be an event to ridicule the prophesy. It will culminate at midnight with the burning of a book called Encyclopaedia of Foretelling the Future.