Press Review

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Today we start with Mlada fronta Dnes and who could ignore the front cover photograph of Martina Tumova smiling a little grin at the Andel awards last night. The awards, which are held annually, are the Czech equivalent of the U.S. Grammys. And Ms Tumova, who is the manager of the band Krystof which won "Best New Artist of the Year", had the pleasure of explaining why band members had refused to accept the award personally.

Today we start with Mlada fronta Dnes and who could ignore the front cover photograph of Martina Tumova smiling a little grin at the Andel awards last night. The awards, which are held annually, are the Czech equivalent of the U.S. Grammys. And Ms Tumova, who is the manager of the band Krystof which won "Best New Artist of the Year", had the pleasure of explaining why band members had refused to accept the award personally.

Reading a statement by the group Tumova said Krystof had refused to take part because the event was being broadcast by TV Nova, the popular but often controversial station watched by many in the Czech Republic. The group's statement blamed the station of eroding cultural standards in Czech society, and accused TV Nova of having no interest in the music scene other than to reap a profit.

From music we turn to the roar of U.S. Apache and Black Hawk helicopters which, Pravo writes, are scaring locals in Vojkovice, near Karlovy Vary. U.S. forces are training in the western region of the Czech Republic as part of Operation Talon Strike, and it is hardly surprising that some people are on edge.

The paper writes that the helicopters have flight speeds reaching almost 300 kilometres per hour, and that they have been practising "live" fire day and night at a nearby military compound. Though the gunfire itself has been inaudible, Pravo writes that some locals believe the helicopters have strayed from the 350 square kilometre base: "After the Soviets left we had quiet here for 13 years", says a local mayor, griping over the exercises.

Speaking of mayors, Friday's Lidove noviny carries a short interview with Prague's own Jan Kasl, who has spoken to the press for the first time since suffering a nervous collapse on Tuesday. The mayor has been leading an attack on corruption at Prague's city hall, but the paper writes, businessmen as well as city hall representatives are demanding concrete proof.

So far Mr Kasl has refused to elaborate. Lidove noviny notes that Mayor Kasl has been blind-sided by other members of his political party, the Civic Democrats, but the mayor is standing firm, claiming he will not give up politics.

And if you've been following Czech politics these last few weeks, you will have no doubt noticed the resurgence of controversy over former Czechoslovakia's post-war Benes Decrees, legislation which sanctioned the expulsion of two and a half million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II.

Hospodarske noviny writes that Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has ordered a report from the Czech Justice Ministry which will analyse the legal basis of continuing legal disputes over confiscated and nationalised property. The paper quotes the justice ministry as saying that several hundred controversial and unsolved cases remain.

And finally this Friday, ever wonder what happened to legendary Czech underground writer Egon Bondy ?...some of the details are in Lidove noviny's weekend supplement. The paper describes Bondy's emigration to Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1994, and mentions his meetings with students, his protest against the wave of anti-Semitism in the 1950s, and his association with contemporaries graphic designer Vlastimil Boudnik and writer Bohumil Hrabal.

When asked by Lidove noviny to describe the happiest moments of his life, Mr Bondy replies "when I was roaring drunk". But at 72, Bondy is still writing 15 pages a day.