Press Review

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All of today's papers cover Guenter Verheugen's visit to Prague - two of the dailies carry Mr Verheugen's photo on the front page, although Mlada fronta Dnes and Hospodarske noviny opt either for Colin Powell on his visit to Israel or Zdenek Tuma, the governor of the Czech National Bank, looking troubled by the strengthening crown.

All of today's papers cover Guenter Verheugen's visit to Prague - two of the dailies carry Mr Verheugen's photo on the front page, although Mlada fronta Dnes and Hospodarske noviny opt either for Colin Powell on his visit to Israel or Zdenek Tuma, the governor of the Czech National Bank, looking troubled by the strengthening crown.

And it's the crown that we start with in Hospodarske noviny: the paper quotes Governor Tuma as saying there's no real justification for the recent strengthening of the Czech crown on the exchange market, warning that the country's macroeconomic stability could suffer as a result. On Thursday the Czech crown broke the 30 crowns to the Euro barrier, for the first time ever, at 29.99.

Hospodarske noviny writes that the central bank now faces growing pressure from Czech exporters to intervene more heavily, but quotes one analyst as saying that the trend towards a strong crown is now so dominant that "exporters are just going to have to learn to live with it."

From financial news to legal affairs - Mlada fronta Dnes covers the latest in the trial of Alois Grebenicek, the former secret police officer accused of torturing political prisoners in the 1950s. The eighty-year-old Grebenicek once again avoided Thursday's court hearing, which was set to take place in hospital. The paper notes that Mr Grebenicek has changed tactics. Earlier Grebenicek avoided hearings by checking into hospital, citing poor health: on Thursday he checked out of hospital, and Judge Radomira Vesela was forced to postpone proceedings until a later date.

Mlada fronta Dnes writes that former political prisoners are convinced that Judge Vesela, who has a Communist past, has no intention of ever seeing Mr Grebenicek stand trial: throughout five years of proceedings Mrs Vesela has never tried using special legal measures to force Mr Grebenicek to appear before the court.

Moving on to a new development now - Lidove noviny writes about a new government loan which should make it easier for young people in the Czech Republic to own their own homes: as of Monday those under the age of 36 will be eligible to apply for a loan of up to 200,000 crowns when investing in the construction of a new apartment or house.

According to the paper the loan comes with a friendly 3 percent interest rate, but must be paid off within ten years. Some other restrictions apply, including the size of apartment or house that young owners can build.

From apartments we turn to sports and Mlada fronta Dnes which reports on the winners of the Sports Photograph of the Year for 2001. The winning photograph features a terribly muddied mountain biker after a nasty crash in the forest during a heated race.

The photo's title translated into English reads "A taste for racing, a taste for the track", indicating the fallen rider's mouthful of fresh dirt. Well, it happens to the best of us. Runners-up in the competition include a photo of a clash between footballers on the pitch, and a soaring photograph of a snowboarder in striking silhouette, as he takes off over the mountains.