Press Review

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It's the Middle East which still dominates the front pages of the Czech dailies today - Lidove noviny shows a still from the latest Osama bin Laden video, which also purports to contain the last will and testament of one of the September 11th hijackers. Mlada fronta Dnes, meanwhile, features a picture of one of the survivors of Monday's plane crash in South Korea, being helped away from the wreckage of the Boeing 767. "He was lucky" reads the caption, in a master of understatement.

It's the Middle East which still dominates the front pages of the Czech dailies today - Lidove noviny shows a still from the latest Osama bin Laden video, which also purports to contain the last will and testament of one of the September 11th hijackers. Mlada fronta Dnes, meanwhile, features a picture of one of the survivors of Monday's plane crash in South Korea, being helped away from the wreckage of the Boeing 767. "He was lucky" reads the caption, in a master of understatement.

Mlada fronta Dnes says whoever wins the elections, the lower house will remain an old boy's club, with even less female MPs than it has now and no-one to represent the country's 300,000-strong Roma minority. Come June 2002, says the paper, your average parliamentary deputy will still be a middle-aged man.

At present just 30 of the 200 deputies are women, and that number is set to fall even further if the list of candidates is anything to go buy, says Mlada fronta Dnes. And the current parliament's sole Roma MP - Monika Mihalickova - is leaving politics to have a baby. Her party, the opposition Freedom Union, is fielding one minority candidate at least - he's Marian Bielesz from Silesia's Polish-speaking community.

Pravo leads with news that a private hospital in the northern town of Vrchlabi is about to start controversial cancer treatment known as "de-vitalisation." The Health Ministry may have issued a strict ban on the treatment, and the Czech Medical Chamber is also highly sceptical, but in mid-May doctors at Vrchlabi's private Mountain Hospital will begin offering cancer patients the "miracle" treatment.

De-vitalisation was pioneered by doctor Karel Fortyn in the 1970s. The treatment involves tying knots around cancerous tumours, rather than surgically removing them. The late Dr Fortyn claimed the body's immune system starves the tumour to death, thus curing the patient. Health Minister Bohumil Fiser allowed the first clinical trials of de-vitalisation last year, but the results were far from convincing and registration was refused.

But hospital director Vladimir Dryml tells Pravo it's the patient's right to choose, and says he's ready to defend that right - enshrined in the 1964 Helsinki Declaration - in court. "Who owns the rights to a patient's health? Minister Fiser? The Czech Medical Chamber? Or the patient himself?" he asks.

Moving on, and Lidove noviny features a rather odd picture of the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, dressed in a white coat and looking as if he's about to ease himself into a swimming pool surrounded by people in chef's hats. He's actually being shown around one of Russia's nuclear fuel factories, but what the hats are all about is anyone's guess.

And finally to the Prague section of Mlada fronta Dnes - the paper reports on preparations for the city's new "Monument to the Victims of Communism" currently underway on Prague's Petrin Hill. The monument will be unveiled in May, but only after the Culture Ministry settled a bitter dispute over how big it should be. That dispute is now resolved, and the monument will feature six bronze statues, symbolising the suffering of the Czech people between 1948 and 1989.