Press Review

All papers hail U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to communist North Korea as a historic breakthrough. LIDOVE NOVINY notes that the visit is the first ever to the last bastion of hardline Stalinism. The paper describes the welcome ceremony thrown in Pyongyang in Ms Albright's honour as a truly amazing display of North Korea's self-esteem. But it says that rather than watching 100,000 gymnasts perform a spectacular and extravagant mix of dance, music, costume, pyrotechnics, acrobatics and callisthenics in praise of the ruling Communist Party, she would have preferred to hear assurances that the regime is prepared to scrap its strategic missile programme.

On to the home front now, Czech teachers' unions have gone on strike alert to protest new draft legislation which they say would put schools at the mercy of new regional governments. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY says teachers want to preserve their status as civil servants paid by the state and don't want local bosses to decide about curricula and who fills what teaching or administrative posts.

MLADA FRONTA DNES cannot identify with such concerns, saying that the state is a poor manager in the field of education. For ten years now, schools have been wrangling for money and decision-making powers, the paper says, because all this has been controlled by the Education Ministry in Prague. In contrast, the proposed new regional set-up would enable relevant decision-making to be done on lower, regional levels, that means closer to individual schools.

Today's PRAVO reports that the man who published Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in Czech last year will be formally charged with supporting and promoting movements aimed at the suppression of civil rights and liberties. The Prague state attorney told the paper that the publisher, Michal Zitko, would be charged by the end of October. Mr Zitko argues that the case against him is purely political and his lawyers say releasing Mein Kampf now, 60 years after it was written, cannot be treated as a criminal offence. He also argues that the "Bible of Nazism" has been published in many countries.

But all politics and scandals go to pot when it comes to football. MLADA FRONTA DNES did a little spying on Pele, probably the greatest soccer players the world has ever produced. The paper's reporters and photographers stalked him in Prague, where he arrived incognito on Monday to spend his 60th birthday in the Czech capital before moving on to Zurich. There's no indication that anyone will ever upstage the great Brazilian's achievements, MLADA FRONTA DNES wrote, quoting him as saying how happy he was to be in this beautiful city. The paper notes that the Czech Football Association had absolutely no idea he'd be coming or else they would have staged a welcome full of pomp and circumstance.

And finally, CESKE SLOVO carries an interview with yet another living legend, Director Yuri Lyubimov of the world-famous Taganka Theatre of Moscow. The octogenarian guru of progressive theatre was in Plzen at the weekend, directing his rendition of the play Marat-Sade by Peter Weiss. He says his wish now is to return to the Czech Republic with a Taganka version of Jenufa, the opera by Czech composer Leos Janacek. Technology, he told CESKE SLOVO, will never be able to replace normal human rapport, so he's quite optimistic that live theatre will never be supplanted by virtual arts on the Internet. His future plans? Mr Lyubimov definitely will stay in Moscow although he holds several passports and could spend his retirement anywhere else. Maybe New Zealand wouldn't be a bad choice, he said on second thought.