Press Review

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's one-day visit to Prague makes the headlines in all of today's papers, with his picture splashed over most of the front pages. All agree that the most important part of Mr Blair's visit was his assertion that the Benes decrees would not hinder the Czech Republic from entering the EU.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's one-day visit to Prague makes the headlines in all of today's papers, with his picture splashed over most of the front pages. All agree that the most important part of Mr Blair's visit was his assertion that the Benes decrees would not hinder the Czech Republic from entering the EU.

But besides the Benes decrees, Mlada fronta Dnes looks into the reason behind Mr Blair's short but meaningful trip and soon attributes it to the up-coming elections: "British Prime Minister comes before elections to support government" reads a caption. But that will not suffice to bring the Social Democrats closer to Mr Blair's Labour Party, the paper says.

And staying with the elections. All of today's papers cover the pre-election campaigns of both the ruling Social Democrats and opposition Civic Democrats. The Social Democrats (CSSD), under the leadership of Vladimir Spidla, presented their programme on Sunday during a meeting on the hill Rip north of Prague, a place seen as one of the symbols of the Czech nation. On Monday, the Civic Democrats (ODS), concentrated on North Bohemia promoting the themes that run under their "The ODS votes for Czech national interests" campaign.

An article in this week's Respekt magazine has resulted in a strong reaction from today's papers. The article claims that the head of the country's intelligence service, Jiri Ruzek started a private business at the same time when he already held the sensitive post of head of military intelligence. To make matters worse, Mr Ruzek is said to have worked in the company with a former Communist Secret Police (StB) agent.

Mlada fronta Dnes says that whilst there is no law against intelligence service officials going into business with former StB agents, it does point out that the law on the military intelligence service specifically prohibits its officers from going into private business. The paper is convinced that Mr Ruzek had broken the law. His company, SUDA Investment, was established six years ago and the paper wonders why it has taken so long for the public to find out about Mr Ruzek's business involvement.

Lidove noviny's Petruska Sustrova also comments that it is not uncommon for people in high places to indulge in business on the side. She gives the example of Members of Parliament and says that most of them have their own businesses or other commercial interests alongside their jobs as lawmakers, although they earn a comfortable living. The rare few who seem to be satisfied with their salaries and put an honest day's work into their job serving the public stick out like visitors from another planet, Petruska Sustrova writes. When listening to the conversations of MPs in Parliament, one could mistake it for an entrepreneurs' club she adds.

Today's Pravo features an interview with Prague's chief district health officer, Vladimir Polanecky on calls from parents and some organisations for compulsory vaccination to be dropped from the Czech legal code. Mr Polanecky tells the paper that such a step would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in danger. Responding to the argument that the declaration of human rights gives the patient the right to reject medical treatment, he points out that the declaration also states that this is not the case when public health is at stake. He points to Britain where he says children started dying after a similar anti-vaccination movement resulted in vaccinations becoming optional.