Press Review

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The general election which ended at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and what journalists are calling a "palace coup" at the commercial station TV Nova are the two topics that prevail in all the Czech newspapers today. All of them also feature colour photos of the leaders of the four major parties and President Vaclav Havel casting their ballots at polling stations throughout the country.

The general election which ended at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and what journalists are calling a "palace coup" at the commercial station TV Nova are the two topics that prevail in all the Czech newspapers today. All of them also feature colour photos of the leaders of the four major parties and President Vaclav Havel casting their ballots at polling stations throughout the country.

Commenting on the latest development at TV Nova, which often has ratings of 70 percent, Pravo writes the main goal of the 'palace coup' was to overthrow Nova's director, Vladimir Zelezny. The whole action was masterminded by Zelezny's former lawyer Ales Rozehnal, writes the paper. Rozehnal and other shareholders asked the Radio and TV Broadcasting Council to remove Zelezny as one of the directors of the company CET 21, which owns the license for Nova's broadcasts.

Zelezny, however, did not surrender and his bodyguards chased bodyguards protecting Rozehnal off the premises, and Zelezny himself told reporters that he was still Nova's director. Pravo writes that he will remain in his post till June 27th, when the Radio and TV Broadcasting Council will make a decision in the matter. But the paper quotes one of its members as saying that the timing of the affair - just as the elections got underway - cast a negative light on those who had provoked it.

Lidove noviny writes that predictions about a low election turnout have not come true. Shortly before the polling stations closed on the first election day - at 10 p.m. on Friday - it was estimated that some 40 percent of voters had already cast their ballots. Some polling stations were packed shortly after they opened, because masses of people wanted to leave town for the weekend.

According to Lidove noviny party leaders in the polling stations were radiating optimism - for instance the head of the centre-right Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus told photographers self-confidently that they were just taking pictures of the winner. The only bigger election scandal came from the town of Most, where residents of a mostly Roma housing estate received envelopes with only one ballot - that of the ruling Social Democratic Party. Each potential voter had allegedly been promised 150 crowns - some 4 and a half US dollars.

Mlada fronta Dnes carries a funny story from the polling station in the Prague 6 district, where President Havel and his wife Dagmar were voting. The paper reports that the whole venue had to go through tight security measures. A piano in the corner of the room was also thoroughly examined. The man who checked it looked inside and even played a few cords on the keys.

And there's yet another story, a sports one, that appears in all the newspapers: they report on the Detroit Red Wings' fourth victory in the play offs of ice hockey's Stanley Cup. The win saw a dream come true for the Red Wings' goaltender Dominik Hasek - the legendary Czech goalie won the Stanley Cup for the first time. Having fulfilled his lifelong dream, many believe Hasek will now announce his retirement.