Press Review

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Not surprisingly, it's George Bush on the cover of many of Friday's Czech dailies, the American president quoted from a speech in Berlin yesterday warning that the continuing existence of civilisation itself was in the balance, and that terrorism would be defeated. That did not stop some protestors in Germany from hitting the streets though - PRAVO features an angry young man on its front page, soaked to the skin after being sprayed by a water cannon. In the meantime, police in riot gear subdue other protestors in the background.

Not surprisingly, it's George Bush on the cover of many of Friday's Czech dailies, the American president quoted from a speech in Berlin yesterday warning that the continuing existence of civilisation itself was in the balance, and that terrorism would be defeated. That did not stop some protestors in Germany from hitting the streets though - PRAVO features an angry young man on its front page, soaked to the skin after being sprayed by a water cannon. In the meantime, police in riot gear subdue other protestors in the background.

It's not all bad news though - on its cover PRAVO also includes a detail from an unknown Picasso painting, which, the paper writes, was hidden from the public for 60 years. The painting, called Nude with a Necklace, will be auctioned by the famous Christie's auction house in London, where it is expected to raise as much as 9 million pounds. That's about 450 million Czech crowns...


Speaking of money we turn now to the Czech domestic scene and Friday's MLADA FRONTA DNES which looks at the problem of corruption and bribery in Czech courts. The paper quotes a highly-placed judge who has caused an uproar by admitting publicly that corruption is a problem. Concretely, the bribes concern the founding of new businesses in the Czech Republic, normally a long and drawn-out procedure.

The paper writes that the lengthy legal process literally invites bribes, and says the going rate for illegally speeding up paperwork for, say, a limited liability company is around 30, 000 crowns, while a joint-stock company fetches as much as 50, 000. Makes one think that a shady judge or lawyer somewhere is saving up for that Picasso. The corruption charges are obviously serious though, and the argument reached high political echelons on Thursday with Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures involved in a war of words with lawyer and opposition Coalition leader Hana Marvanova, who has backed the corruption allegations.


Moving on to other things critical President Vaclav Havel has once again stepped-up criticism of the so-called Opposition Agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats, the ODS. LIDOVE NOVINY writes that while the president is generally satisfied with the rule of the minority Social Democrat government on several issues such as the privatisation of banks and army reform, he is unhappy about the legal precedent from 1998, which helped bring the Social Democrats to power.

The president says that the Opposition Agreement, which outlined the terms for Civic Democrat support for the minority Social Democrat government was in fact a "secret coalition that contributed to a decline in parliamentary democracy in [the Czech Republic]". In an interview Mr Havel apparently said he would have welcomed another type of government coalition in 1998, and is quoted as saying "[The Civic Democrats] could have benefited from spending time as a real opposition party". But, with the Civic Democrats looking strong in current opinion polls to the up-coming elections, it doesn't look like that will happen any time soon.


Back to MLADA FRONTA DNES now and imagine playing for an impressed audience at Prague's Rudolfinium concert hall at the age of just 15. That's right, the paper carries a short mention and photo of 15-year-old Czech pianist Lukas Vondracek, who made waves at the famous Prague Spring music festival on Thursday, performing Prokofiev's 1st piano concert with the Czech Philharmonic, under the direction of Vladimir Ashkenazy.


And finally, "Holky, jdeme na pivo" - Girls, it's time to go for a beer! LIDOVE NOVINY writes about the newest trend affecting one of the Czech Republic's most famous past-times - being taken over, in a small but impressive way, by women.

The beauties featured in LIDOVE NOVINY's weekend supplement have nothing in common with beer-guts and ranting pub politics though and that's precisely the point. Drinking beer is getting a shinier appeal in the Czech Republic, a new look, influenced quite evidently by a popular Czech beer ad campaign. "We used to meet in cafes..." the ladies say, "it all became a bit of a bore". As LIDOVE NOVINY writes, a new era of beer-drinking has arrived.