Press Review

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The faces of Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Russian President Vladimir Putin grace all the front pages today - Mr Putin's support for the Czech Republic in the dispute over the post-war Benes decrees has clearly gone down well. Mlada fronta Dnes also features a young Jewish man, complete with skullcap and Star of David flag draped over his shoulders, attending a ceremony in Prague to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of Israel.

The faces of Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Russian President Vladimir Putin grace all the front pages today - Mr Putin's support for the Czech Republic in the dispute over the post-war Benes decrees has clearly gone down well. Mlada fronta Dnes also features a young Jewish man, complete with skullcap and Star of David flag draped over his shoulders, attending a ceremony in Prague to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of Israel.

Pravo leads with news that the popular independent Senator Vaclav Fischer is to retire from politics in the autumn, to go back to running his highly successful Fischer travel agency. The 47-year-old senator, described by Pravo as part of the "new wave" of Czech politicians, says business is more interesting than politics. "My company needs me," he tells the paper.

Further on in Pravo, there's more in-depth discussion about the revolutionary and controversial cancer treatment known as "de-vitalisation". The treatment involves tying knots around cancerous tumours, rather than surgically removing them. A private hospital in the northern town of Vrchlabi is to begin the treatment in mid-May, despite warnings from the Health Ministry and the Czech Medical Chamber that the method hasn't passed clinical trials and the hospital could be taken to court.

But Pravo challenges the opponents of de-vitalisation, quoting research carried out by the Czech Academy of Sciences, the country's leading academic body. This week, says the paper, a team from the academy proved that the treatment does work, after carrying out experiments on a laboratory pig. "The results are extremely convincing," says a member of the body's Academic Council, adding that tests will now begin on other animals.

Lidove noviny reports today on news that the country's public television network, Czech Television, has slipped into third place in the ratings for the first time since last year. According to research carried out by the Internet daily radiotv.cz, the commercial station TV Prima has just nudged ahead of Czech TV to take second place in the ratings. The hugely popular commercial station Nova remains in first place, with around 45 percent of households watching the station regularly.

Mlada fronta Dnes leads with claims that the Communist Party used funds from a shady arms dealer to fund the party newspaper, Halo Noviny. The paper says in the early 1990s the party's deputy leader Vojtech Filip worked for a Czech arms company, whose Russian owner was found guilty of illegally exporting military vehicles to China and North Korea.

Party leaders are not denying Mr Filip's link with the company, but say they can't confirm the story about the two-million crown loan. "I don't know anything about it, but it could be true," is all the party's treasurer Vaclav Exner would say to Mlada fronta Dnes, explaining that he's only been looking after the party funds since 1995.

Finally, back to Lidove noviny and some good news for Czech soldiers serving in the army's elite anti- chemical unit in Kuwait City. The paper writes that the Defence Ministry plans to send Czech pop star Helena Vondrackova to entertain the troops in the desert. "Heat, humidity, dust and boredom," says the paper, and no, it's not referring to a Helena Vondrackova concert, but the soldiers' everyday routine in Kuwait which the ministry wants to lighten up with a little music.