Press Review

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The top story in today's papers is still the Czech ice hockey team's triumphant return home, after winning the world championship for the third time in a row. Photos of enthusiastic crowds at the airport and on the Old Town Square, of hockey players spraying fans with champagne, interviews with family members and fans, as well as with the players themselves - all the papers are full of them.

The one thing missing, though, are photographs of politicians meeting the world champions, something that was in all the papers after past victories. This time, reports LIDOVE NOVINY, the players decided that they did not want to meet the politicians, saying nothing good had come out of it in the past.

The paper mentions a number of instances including the 1996 championships in Vienna, when the then premier Vaclav Klaus came to congratulate the winning team in their dressing room as they were singing - "Vaclav, you're a really great bloke". Klaus, writes the paper, thought the accolade was in his honor, but they were actually singing it in praise of their masseur, also called Vaclav.

But above all, the players say, politicians only use the occasion to be seen with the popular players for political publicity stunts. That's why this time they refused to meet any of them, including Vaclav Klaus, now speaker of the lower house, even though the meeting had been announced as a part of the welcoming ceremony. But Klaus' office, says LIDOVE NOVINY, denies any such plans. Vaclav Klaus had not, they say, planned to meet the team in the first place.

MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that environmentalists are opposing a bill dealing with nuclear safety approved by the cabinet on Monday. They accuse the central government of keeping the public and the country's regions out of important decision-making. One example given by the paper is the planning of the construction of storage space for spent nuclear fuel. Such plans, say the environmentalists, will only be made by the government, the power utility company - CEZ, and the National Office for Nuclear Safety.

But the chairperson of the National Office for Nuclear Safety, Dana Drabova, says the new law on the impact on the natural environment does give regions and citizens enough power to express their views on construction projects. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has also rejected the allegations, the paper says, explaining that the cabinet's aim was to harmonise Czech legislation with EU laws on nuclear safety.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports on another bill approved by the Cabinet on Monday which toughens legislation regarding the export of culturally valuable objects. The new law, the paper says, requires the professional examination of any object which is to be exported or sold to a foreign customer in order to evaluate whether they are of cultural importance or not.

A number of selected museums and galleries are also to be responsible for the processing of any application dealing with the export of such goods. According to the bill, the Ministry of Culture will have the power to prohibit the export of any objects that it believes to be endangered.

On its front page today's PRAVO carries an interview with the new Justice Minister, Jaroslav Bures, who's now been in office for 100 days. Czech courts and Czech judges have frequently been criticised for their slow work and, in some cases, incompetence, but the new minister does not agree with his predecessor, who called the situation alarming.

Czech judges and Czech courts are much the same as Czech society in general, says Mr Bures. There are many young, promising judges who only lack more experience, and that, according to minister Bures, is just a question of time.