Press Review

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The front pages of today's dailies carry photos of Czech foreign Minister Jan Kavan shaking hands with Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, pictures from the award ceremony of the Cannes film festival, and reports on a tragic air crash in Taiwan.

The front pages of today's dailies carry photos of Czech foreign Minister Jan Kavan shaking hands with Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, pictures from the award ceremony of the Cannes film festival, and reports on a tragic air crash in Taiwan.

Some of the papers report on a commemorative event called Jachymov Hell which took place on Saturday. The name reflects the conditions in which opponents of the former Communist regime were forced to live and work. In the 1950s the Communist regime imprisoned almost 50,000 opponents in 15 labour camps around Jachymov and forced them to work in local uranium mines. Some 2000 of the prisoners succumbed to the inhuman conditions there.

Lidove noviny talked to Jozef Kycek who spent eight years in Jachymov uranium mines. He describes how he was sentenced to 18 years in uranium mines for espionage and high treason in a show trial. Murderers and rapists were given privileges over political prisoners, he tells the daily. Despite telling tales of torture by prison guards, he says he feels no resentment.

And talking about the former Communist dictatorship, Mlada fronta Dnes reports that flocks of former Communists are heading for the Czech parliament in the upcoming elections. The paper writes that ten out of fourteen regional election leaders and nearly a half of the other names in top five places on the candidate lists of the ruling Social Democratic Party were members of the totalitarian Communist party before 1989. Altogether, that's more than 30 former Communists on their way to the Lower House.

On the other hand, the other mainstream parties, excluding the Communist Party give much smaller space to former Communists. While the main opposition Civic Democrats have only five of them on its candidate lists, the right of centre Coalition have none.

Today's Pravo carries an interview with the Minister for Regional Development, Petr Lachnit, who envisages a bright future for the Czech tourist industry. He says foreign visitors bring 3.5 billion USD to the Czech Republic each year. Mr Lachnit unveils plans to make the country even more attractive for tourists by reviving the tradition of the spa resort, investing in improvement of services as well as efforts to include more Czech locations on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

And finally, the business daily Hospodarske noviny writes that the demand for mortgages has multiplied due to a lowering of interest rates. The paper writes that Czech mortgage banks are finding it difficult to deal with the increased number of clients. It also notes that the procedure of getting a mortgage in the Czech Republic takes several weeks, while in developed countries it is usually just a few days.