Press Review

All the Czech newspapers report on a series of mystery bomb attacks that flooded Prague on Wednesday, in which one person was seriously injured. "The H-System bosses are receiving letter bombs," reads a headline on the front page of HOSPODARSKE NOVINY. The paper writes that only a few days before a police investigation of the bankrupt housing construction firm H-System was to be completed, four former and present bosses of the company received parcels with explosives by post. H-System had promised its clients new houses but they were never built although the clients had paid huge sums of money to the firm.

The former director Jaroslav Elias opened the parcel and the explosion tore off his fingers. This was a second attack against him - in 1997 someone set his flat on fire while he and his son were inside. Experts say that the bomb threats are most likely linked to the H-System case. Another suspicious packet was found on Wednesday in the C&A department store which brought the upper part of Wenceslas Square to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon, reports HOSPODARSKE NOVINY.

MLADA FRONTA DNES writes about a report issued by the German intelligence service, which says that on the Czech Republic's territory there are some 200 thousand refugees waiting to illegally cross the border and enter Germany or Austria. According to the report, the 800 kilometre long border between the Czech Republic and Germany serves as the main route for illegal migration to Germany.

The most catastrophic German estimates mention almost half a million illegal immigrants, but the Czech authorities have only "official" immigrants listed, and so they cannot confirm the German intelligence service's report, writes the paper. The Czech police said officially there were 210 thousand foreigners in the Czech Republic, but these are only those who have a residence permit. MLADA FRONTA DNES concludes that tightening immigration rules in destination countries such as Germany can be counterproductive, because more immigrants will seek the services of illegal organisations smuggling them across the green border.

PRAVO reports on the new Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok's decision not to increase taxes in the near future. After his return from a spring session of the International Monetary Fund in Washington Minister Rusnok said the years 2001 and 2002 are not realistic for bringing down taxes. On the contrary, he added that in a long-time perspective taxes will have to be higher in order to put Czech tax policy in tune with that in the European Union.

And finally, LIDOVE NOVINY reports on a government decision to increase fines for drug dealers if caught red-handed. The paper writes that the fine is to be increased from the present 100 thousand to 500 thousand crowns. The amendment will also extend the list of banned substances to include a further drug - it's called 4-NTA and is similar to ecstasy. The UN Anti-Drug Commission has described 4-NTA as a highly dangerous substance which may cause respiratory problems and even death if overdosed, concludes LIDOVE NOVINY.

Author: Ita Dungan
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