Press Review

It seems that the continuing saga of the Temelin nuclear power plant is unlikely to disappear from the front pages and editorial space within the foreseeable future. PRAVO praises Prime Minister Zeman's warning that if the blockades of border crossings with Austria are not removed by Monday at the latest, his upcoming visit to Vienna will be very seriously threatened. The paper says Mr Zeman has effectively cornered Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. In a fiercely anti-nuclear Austria, Schuessel has little manoeuvring space, and all he can do is cautiously advise protesters that dialogue is better than blockades.

MLADA FRONTA DNES also subscribes to that opinion, saying that Schuessel's position is now extremely weak. The blockades are a great advantage for Zeman, as he can now claim that the Austrians are the bad guys. Austrian political leaders and their experts have lied to the nation and promised something they cannot achieve, namely making Prague stop Temelin and close it down, the paper says.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports that the Czech ambassador to Bulgaria probably has uttered rather irreverent remarks about Bulgaria and its chances of becoming an EU member state. The diplomat, Ondrej Havlin, reportedly told participants at a reception in Sofia on the occasion of the Czech national holiday on October 28 that Bulgaria would never make it into the EU. He allegedly described the conditions in Bulgaria as disastrous, and said Bulgarian leaders lied to the public when they said prospects for membership were good. Mr Havlin reportedly also made offensive remarks about Bulgaria's prime minister and foreign minister. He denies saying such things, but LIDOVE NOVINY quotes a Bulgarian participant as saying she really had heard the ambassador's gaffe.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that many conscripts serving in the Prague Castle Guard, whose main task is to protect the president, have a tarnished criminal record, and some of them have been to jail for theft and violent offences. The paper reacts to recent revelations that ten castle guardsmen have been accused of hazing--bullying their fellow conscripts. A man employed in the unit's equipment store, for example, has in the past been sentenced for embezzlement. He has since been replaced. An officer who did not wish to be named told MLADA FRONTA DNES that there were only three criteria that render conscripts eligible for service with the Castle Guard: height, good health and at least a primary-school education. The paper says the ten servicemen accused of hazing may go to jail for up to three years if convicted. But bullying evidently goes on, it concludes.

All papers today announce the date of the funeral of Lida Baarova, a pre-war Czech film diva who died in Austria a week ago at the age of 86. ZEMSKE NOVINY writes that Baarova, who will be buried in Salzburg on Thursday, fled Czechoslovakia after a brief imprisonment after the war on charges of collaborating with the Nazis, and after wandering aimlessly through South America, she settled in Italy and then in Austria. Lida Baarova, who starred in several German films in the 1930s and 40s, had a brief romance with Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, but was forced to leave Germany after Adolf Hitler ordered him to stop the affair and return to his Aryan wife. Baarova was found dead in her Salzburg flat, and doctors said she died of a heart attack.

And finally, the contract killer Jiri Kajinek, whose daring jailbreak from a maximum security prison on Sunday has been making the headlines all week, is fast attaining celebrity status, LIDOVE NOVINY writes. The man's still at large in spite of a nation-wide manhunt, and jokes about Kajinek abound in pubs and on the Internet. An electronic picture postcard one can download from the Net is visually very similar to newspaper ads for a top brand of Swedish vodka. On closer scrutiny, it shows a prison window with the bars sawn off, a beam of light illuminating the cell, while the catch phrase reads: ABSOLUT KAJINEK.