Press Review

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Yugoslavia, its popular revolution, and the apparent end of the Milosevic era figure prominently on all the front pages today. Libor Kubik has just joined me in the studio with a review of Friday's press.

All eyes are riveted on the momentous events in Yugoslavia where history is in the making. "Revolution wins in Serbia", reads a front-page headline in LIDOVE NOVINY. "The opposition takes Belgrade by storm", reports CESKE SLOVO, and "Seconds ticking away for Milosevic", notes today's HOSPODARSKE NOVINY. MLADA FRONTA DNES carries an eyewitness account of events in Belgrade by its own correspondent, who compares the scenes outside the parliament building and state television headquarters to a battlefield.

ZEMSKE NOVINY believes that the Yugoslav Constitutional Court's decision to annul the result of last month's presidential elections doesn't only suggest that a second round of voting would be invalid. The main thing for the court is to respect the will of the Yugoslav people, who seem to have voted Mr. Kostunica into power quite overwhelmingly. However, the fresh-election option wouldn't be all that disadvantageous for Milosevic. It would give him several months to try and save his hide, the paper notes.

PRAVO says that although the political maverick Milosevic managed to cling to power for a decade thanks to a series of shrewd political moves, he has been unable to explain plausibly to his people why Serb enclaves in Croatia had to be sacrificed, why Serbia signed the Dayton Accords when they were unacceptable to most Serbs... too many nagging questions went unanswered in Yugoslavia, PRAVO concludes.

Over to domestic issues now, and the controversial Temelin nuclear plant continues to make the headlines. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY notes that even now, with the plant's activation apparently only hours away, Czech political leaders are still embroiled in disputes that effectively play into the hands of Temelin's opponents. Following an embarrassing exchange of views between the environment and trade and industry ministers over the merit of additional environmental-impact testing, the current dispute is whether the test outcomes can delay Temelin's activation. The government could easily find itself under suspicion that it wants Temelin to go on-line at all costs, the paper says.

From big problems to something seemingly mundane but potentially every bit as explosive. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that the rising cost of housing poses a formidable problem for almost half of Czech households. The paper quotes a recent poll as revealing that pensioners often spend a third of their family budgets on payments associated with housing. In spite of these alarming figures, a right-of-centre member of parliament, Ivan Pilip, maintains that Czechs still pay far less for housing than people in the European Union. Brace yourselves for much higher rents once all government controls are lifted, reads Mr. Pilip's message to the poor and the needy.

And finally, MLADA FRONTA DNES notes that the bone marrow transplant unit in the child cancer ward of Prague's once-prestigious Motol Hospital is in a sorry state but the state has no money to pay for the necessary repairs and upgrading. Instead, the Health Ministry has come up with a rather strange idea: Let's move the leukaemia unit somewhere else, ministry officials say. But doctors are against. They argue that all it takes to save the Prague unit is re-equip it with six new oxygen tents in which child patients spend the first few critical days after the transplant.

Author: Libor Kubík
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