Press Review

All Czech daily newspapers today report from the funeral of a Roma man who was stabbed to death by a neo-Nazi skinhead last Saturday, and most of the papers carry photographs of the man's mourning relatives.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the local Roma community in the town of Svitavy, where the racially motivated murder took place, have decided to take action to defend themselves against racially motivated attacks. Immediately after the funeral, local Romanies said they would establish neighbourhood patrols. However, according to LIDOVE NOVINY, some used more radical language, calling for armed vigilante units.

On a related note, LIDOVE NOVINY carries an interview with the British Charge d'affaires in the Czech Republic, Denis Keefe, who says that the British government recognises the fact that the Roma minority suffers discrimination in the Czech Republic. However, he claims that it is not the kind of racial discrimination that makes the Roma eligible to seek asylum in other countries, as recognised by international agreements.

Today's PRAVO reports that the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Crimes of Communism has discovered documents proving that in the 1950s the former Communist president, Antonin Zapotocky, secretly pardoned four Nazi war criminals who had been sentenced to death. PRAVO quotes the head of the Office, Irenej Kratochvil, as saying that the sentence was changed from death penalty to life in prison because the four senior Nazis were recruited as Communist secret police agents while they were in prison.

On its front page, MLADA FRONTA DNES carries a large picture of Czech National Bank vice-governor, Ludek Niedermayer, explaining why the Central Bank decided to increase the key interest rates as of today. The main reason, he says, is fear of an excessive growth of inflation. The newspaper notes that this is the first time in three years that the Central Bank has raised interest rates, making money in the economy more expensive.

Today's ZEMSKE NOVINY leads with a report that the world's oil sheiks are threatening to tighten the taps and that petrol prices will probably rise as they did last year. The paper writes that in theory at least, the end-user price of fuel does not have to increase, but it is unlikely that petrol stations will be willing to cut their profit margins.

And back to MLADA FRONTA DNES, and the paper interviewed the former Czech Industry and Trade Minister, Vladimir Dlouhy, for some time the most popular Czech politician in the first half of the 1990s. Working as an advisor for an international investment bank, and a large multinational corporation, and sitting on the supervisory board of a local company, Mr Dlouhy says that business is far more enjoyable than politics.