Press Review

We start with, what else, the Temelin nuclear power plant. Czechs seem to be getting fed up with having their border crossings to Austria blocked by anti-nuclear protestors. Today's ZEMSKE NOVINY features a photo of two men carrying placards bearing the slogan "Boycott Viennese Coffee!" An article beneath the photo reports on yesterday's mini-blockade outside the Austrian embassy in Prague, where demonstrators also carried signs proclaiming "Down With Johann Strauss!" and "No To Wiener Schnitzel!". Appropriately enough, the only vehicle they managed to block was a car with Austrian license plates. The demonstrators then peacefully laid down their placards in front of the embassy and walked away, reports ZEMSKE NOVINY.

LIDOVE NOVINY devotes a page to the drug problem in the Czech Republic. It says that hard drugs are sold in several locations in Prague which are known not only to drug dealers and customers but also to the police. The police, however, don't do anything about it, says LIDOVE NOVINY. A journalist at the paper rang the police after being offered drugs by a street dealer. He waited an hour, but not a single policeman turned up.

The paper documents the Czech authorities' rather ambiguous approach to the problem by reporting the case of a 22-year-old man who faces an eight-year prison sentence for growing just two cannabis plants and offering joints to his friends. The judge in the case defended his verdict by saying Czech law doesn't distinguish between soft and hard drugs and that eight years was the lowest sentence for distributing drugs to people under the age of 15.

MLADA FRONTA DNES says the Czech authorities have failed to settle the problem concerning a monument in the village of Lety in South Bohemia, which was the site of a concentration camp for Roma during WWII. Roma representatives are exasperated, as the inscription which had been chosen for the monument by historians and independent experts does not call the site a concentration camp.

Cenek Ruzicka from the Committee for Compensation for the Roma Holocaust has expressed his disappointment that neither the communists nor the present government want to admit there were Roma concentration camps on Czech territory during the war. What comes as a shock is the fact that Czech, not German, guards were in charge of Lety. Over 500 men, women and children died in Czech-run concentration camps for Roma during the Nazi occupation, says the paper.

The headline on the front page of MLADA FRONTA DNES today reads "Civic Democrats launch attack on everybody". The paper reports on Sunday's ODS national congress in Plzen, saying the Civic Democrats took the opportunity to criticise all their political rivals: the ruling Social Democrats, the Communists, the right-wing four-party coalition, and even President Vaclav Havel. The Civic Democrats, who have reached an all-time high in the polls, have thus triggered an offensive campaign before the upcoming senatorial elections, scheduled for November.

The congress followed the spirit of its opening speech, delivered by ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus, who said the main problem in Czech politics was "the massive role played by opaque political groupings and structures", and accused the ruling Social Democrats of "being responsible for the vulgarization of Czech politics," concludes MLADA FRONTA DNES.