Press Review

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The Czech Republic's returning Olympic champion Ales Valenta makes the front pages of all the dailies today - proudly holding aloft his gold medal for the cameras and - on the front page of Pravo - biting it to prove that it's not made of chocolate. "I'm glad to be home," he tells Lidove noviny.

The Czech Republic's returning Olympic champion Ales Valenta makes the front pages of all the dailies today - proudly holding aloft his gold medal for the cameras and - on the front page of Pravo - biting it to prove that it's not made of chocolate. "I'm glad to be home," he tells Lidove noviny.

The acrobatic skiing champion was the only Czech athlete to bring home a gold medal from Salt Lake City - but as Mlada fronta Dnes reports today, he remains modest about his historic achievement. "The pilots took me into the cockpit during the flight back from the States," he says. "Watching them land the plane was great, but if I had to keep an eye on so many things during a jump, I'd probably end up on my belly."

The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, comes out in support of controversial National Gallery director Milan Knizak today, after Mr Knizak was labelled a racist for saying work by Roma artists was not good enough for his gallery. "It's a hypocritical, deliberate campaign against him," Mr Klaus says in Lidove noviny. "I know Professor Knizak and he is not a racist," he tells the paper, adding that the gallery director's remarks had clearly been misunderstood.

Mr Knizak is not the most popular director in the gallery's history - and a group of young artists calling themselves "Pode Bal" have made their feelings known in a rather novel way. As Mlada fronta Dnes reports today, they've glued a brick onto the gallery's glass doors, creating the impression of being halfway through the glass. "We did it to call on the National Gallery's management to begin dialogue which would be open to everyone, not just those people with the same views as Mr Knizak," said a representative of the group.

"Sladek is back" says Mlada fronta Dnes today, on the former leader of the far-right Republicans, who were unceremoniously booted out of parliament at the 1998 elections after a virulently racist campaign. Things have gone badly for the party ever since, with a series of fraud investigations and an ugly split between pro and anti-Sladek factions. Now Mr Sladek's back, with a new party - "Miroslav Sladek's Republicans."

But if a photo of an election rally in the town of Karvina is anything to go by, the party still has some distance to go before re-entering parliament. About 30 people attended the meeting, the number slowly rising to around 100 passers- by at the end. And the paper says Mr Sladek is still accompanied by thuggish-looking "bodyguards" - or more accurately skinheads wearing big black boots. But there is one new thing about the Republican leader - judging from the photograph in Mlada fronta Dnes, he's stopped dying his hair.

A word of warning from Pravo today: police say a new dance drug called PMA - known on the street as "UFO" - can be lethal if taken in sufficient quantities. The drug, says the country's senior drugs officer Jiri Komorous, is similar to Ecstasy, but takes longer to work. Users therefore take more of it, waiting for the effects to kick in. The cumulative effect of UFO can cause serious medical problems says Komorous, adding that the first death occurred last year.

And finally those of you familiar with Prague's rather dingy Holesovice district can expect a bit of a surprise in the next few years. As Mlada fronta Dnes reports today, a team of developers has unveiled plans for a huge construction project on the left bank of the River Vltava - involving hundreds of new flats, new office buildings and sports facilities.

The project - called Waterfront Towers - plans to turn the present rundown dockyards area into a shining centre of commerce, complete with parks, restaurants and a brand new marina. The architects say most of the new housing will be luxury apartment buildings, but claim the area will not become a rich man's playground. We shall see.