Press Review

Tuesday's fire in an underground garage in Prague's Vinohradska Street - just up the road from the Radio Prague studios - makes the front pages this morning; pictures of exhausted firemen dominate the papers today. Also on the front page is U.S. Senator and one-time Republican presidential candidate John McCain, in Prague for talks with the Czech President Vaclav Havel.

The liberal LIDOVE NOVINY evaluates Tuesday's comments from Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman, on his government's remaining 10 months in office before next year's elections. The Zeman government wants to get everything done that it hasn't managed to do in the last three years, says the paper. The list of unfulfilled tasks is a long one, and bears just a passing resemblance to reality, the paper goes on. What Zeman's spee

ch really means is that the election campaign has now begun in earnest, says LIDOVE NOVINY. And in the remaining ten months the minority left-wing government will be concentrating on looking nice for the voters. That means that they'll be selling as much as possible to raise money for lots of generous pre- election spending. And meanwhile ministers will be thinking about what to do after the elections.

Turning to PRAVO now, and the Social Democrat deputy mayor of Prague, Otto Kechner, has an interesting take on the recent scandal surrounding Petra Buzkova, the popular Social Democrat MP who was snapped topless on a beach in Croatia by paparazzi photographers. Mr Kechner accuses Ms Buzkova of jeopardising support for the party by having the gall to sunbathe topless whilst on holiday.

"Most of you have known me for several years and know I'm no puritan," says Mr Kechner in an open letter to the party. "But such behaviour by a Social Democrat MP and the head of the party's Prague organisation is simply gambling with our voter potential," he goes on. Colour photos of Ms Buzkova were splashed last week across 5 pages of the new tabloid Super. Experts say they were taken with a telephoto lens about one kilometre away. Asked for her reaction to Mr Kechner's comments, Ms Buzkova told the paper "I shrug my shoulders."

MLADA FRONTA DNES has a fascinating series of pictures of a Skoda car being dropped out of a plane on a parachute. And no, it wasn't an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records, but merely a parachute manufacturer testing a prototype of its new model. The Skoda was dropped from a height of one kilometre, and sailed gently to earth dangling under two chutes.

But not everything went to plan - the car was meant to land a field, but strong winds blew it off course towards a local road. "I have to admit we didn't expect that bit to happen," said the firm's Josef Straka. But not to worry - the road was closed beforehand by police, and there was no danger to the public. So if you thought you saw something funny in the skies over Klatovy on Tuesday, now you know.