Press Review

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The papers are all rejoicing today with almost identical front-page colour pictures of Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his blushing bride Maxima, posing for the cameras on their wedding day. What's that got to do with the Czech Republic I hear you ask? Well the answer is - absolutely nothing. Do the Czechs perhaps share a secret fascination with the Dutch royal family? Absolutely not. All very strange.

There's more royal Dutch madness inside the papers as well. The Prague section of Mlada fronta Dnes carries photos of a special Dutch carnival on Prague's famous Charles Bridge, held in honour of the future king and his lovely bride. The historic bridge was turned into a gigantic stage for clowns, jesters and jugglers from around the country on Saturday, a dual celebration of the Dutch national holiday Orange Day and the Dutch royal wedding.

Pravo examines a problem which has long aggravated foreign managers here in the Czech Republic - excessive sick leave taken by Czech employees. Managers of European firms who set up shop in the Czech Republic complain that employees frequently disappear for two weeks when they come down with the flu, which, the paper says, is unusual in Western Europe, the U.S. or Japan.

But are the doctors to blame for sending people home too often? One doctor contacted by Pravo was shocked when confronted with figures showing that on an average day a staggering 330,000 people - or 7 percent of the country's workforce - are home sick. He added that more and more Czech doctors are in favour of introducing the West European system - a system based on trust, not sick notes. Most workers are allowed to take off three days a month sick leave to treat minor ailments, without having to produce a sick note from their doctors.

Where does Minister Without Portfolio Karel Brezina really live? asks Mlada fronta Dnes today. He may be the only minister with no ministry, but to make up for it he can boast of being the minister with the greatest number of home addresses, writes the paper.

Before he moved in with his wife, says the paper, Mr Brezina used to pose for photographers in his modest one- bedroom flat on the outskirts of Prague. Last year, however, he married writer and editor-in-chief of Playboy, Barbara Nesvadbova, and now lives in her rented flat in Prague's plush Vinohrady district.

The happy couple say they're looking for a new place to live, writes Mlada fronta Dnes. But what Mr Brezina doesn't show the papers is his new spacious apartment in Prague's luxurious Klausova street, which is already home to several leading Social Democrats. That makes three addresses, says the paper, and to top that, all official correspondence is sent to yet another flat in Prague - owned by his brother.

And finally a withering verdict in Lidove noviny today on the Czech Republic's hugely successful commercial TV station, TV Nova. The station celebrated its eighth birthday this weekend with an extravagant Saturday night entertainment show, featuring Nova newsreaders, presenters and even General Director Vladimir Zelezny in a variety of comedy sketches and songs.

"TV Nova celebrated its eighth birthday this weekend, and the special programme showed the intellectual sophistication of an eight-year-old," says the paper. Desperate, boring, pathetic was the paper's verdict on Saturday night's programme. How bad will it be when Nova celebrates its 20th birthday? it says.