Press Review

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Today's newspapers offer a fair mix from the international as well as the Czech domestic scene: while Pravo features a photo of a deeply shocked Yasser Arafat surveying his damaged bedroom in Ramallah after it was hit by a tank missile on Thursday; Lidove noviny features a photograph of former Prague mayor Jan Kasl joking with Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Today's newspapers offer a fair mix from the international as well as the Czech domestic scene: while Pravo features a photo of a deeply shocked Yasser Arafat surveying his damaged bedroom in Ramallah after it was hit by a tank missile on Thursday; Lidove noviny features a photograph of former Prague mayor Jan Kasl joking with Czech President Vaclav Havel.

The two men met yesterday as part of gathering of well-known Czech intellectuals, the former mayor's friends, in order to ridicule political rivals in the Civic Democratic Party, who have claimed that Mr Kasl's recent departure from city hall was a cynical move orchestrated by Prague Castle, aimed at hurting the Civic Democrats' chances in up-coming general elections.

For the moment, though, Mr Kasl has had the last laugh: Lidove noviny's photo from the meeting shows the former mayor whispering into a giant cardboard ear held by the grinning Czech president, the two men mocking the conspiracy theories currently flooding the Czech political scene.

But, there are more conspiracies to speak of, some more serious than others, we find out in Mlada fronta Dnes. The paper writes about a slanderous document circulating over the internet, an email aimed at hurting opposition Freedom Union leader Hana Marvanova. The four-page email, titled Two Faces of Hana M, describes the political leader as "an unscrupulous shrew who cynically destroys her lovers", though Mlada fronta Dnes indicates that some details in the article did come from Mrs Marvanova's personal life. Mlada fronta Dnes adds that the author went into great detail to make it appear the article was the product of inner-party dissent.

That, however, is only half the story: the slanderous email has been traced, of all places, to a virtual IP address at Czech Radio's Radiozurnal news department. Mlada fronta Dnes quotes Radiozurnal editor-in-chief Alexander Picha as saying that the email could only have been sent by either a full or part-time employee. Mlada fronta Dnes points out that while the evidence shows that the document was sent from Czech Radio, that does not necessarily mean the author and the sender were one and the same: someone at Radiozurnal might have simply been passing it on. Whatever the case, an investigation at the station has got underway.

Turning to other news now, Hospodarske noviny features an article that quotes a study by the weekly The Economist in conjunction with Ernst and Young, which claims that it will take ten years before companies in new European union member states begin to reap the full benefits of EU membership. The Czech Republic has been slated to join in 2004.

According to the study, local businesses will first have to invest to bring their products in line with EU norms, saying that ultimately sub-contractors will have it easier than final product producers. The study also claims that upon joining the EU prices of energy, water, and basic foodstuffs will go up immediately, while it will take 5 to 10 years before monthly wages follow suit. Well, I guess nobody said it would be easy...

Finally for this Friday have you considered the changing face of Prague? Pravo features an article on the upcoming reconstruction of the Jiri of Podebrady Square in Prague's Vindohrady district, set to begin in November. The paper writes that there are three goals behind the project, set to make the square more aesthetically complete and more user-friendly.

Anyone who knows the area will know the centrepiece of the square is the Church of the Sacred Heart, designed by Slovenian architect Josip Plecnik - first and foremost the project plans to homogenise the design of the square to allow the highly-valued design of the church stand out even more. New trees, new lamps in the park, new benches, and fountains will also be added. The project will also aim to provide more areas for rest and relaxation, and finally a part of the square will be designed to handle larger public events. The cost of the project has been estimated at almost 40 million crowns, and will take about 5 months to complete.