Press Review

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Perhaps few people will be surprised to learn that politics make all the headlines of all of today's Czech dailies: Thursday saw the election of a new speaker of parliament in the Czech Republic: "Zaoralek to lead new parliament, Zaoralek beats Klaus 101 - 74, Klaus lasts only one round" is how some of the dailies describe the two-round battle for the chairmanship between Social Democrat Lubomir Zoaralek and former speaker Vaclav Klaus that took place Thursday. The two round bid was seen as the first test of solidarity for the new coalition government between the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union-DEU, and, although Mr Zaoralek's bid was ultimately a success, LIDOVE NOVINY points out that the first round misstep indicates the new coalition might not function as smoothly as most members would like.

Perhaps few people will be surprised to learn that politics make all the headlines of all of today's Czech dailies: Thursday saw the election of a new speaker of parliament in the Czech Republic: "Zaoralek to lead new parliament, Zaoralek beats Klaus 101 - 74, Klaus lasts only one round" is how some of the dailies describe the two-round battle for the chairmanship between Social Democrat Lubomir Zoaralek and former speaker Vaclav Klaus that took place Thursday. The two round bid was seen as the first test of solidarity for the new coalition government between the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union-DEU, and, although Mr Zaoralek's bid was ultimately a success, LIDOVE NOVINY points out that the first round misstep indicates the new coalition might not function as smoothly as most members would like.

The problem, says the paper, is the secret ballot, which made it impossible to determine whether Mr Zaoralek, the coalition candidate, was ultimately supported by all the coalition MPs. In the first round it was clear that at least 2 from the 101 majority did not. That seems to indicate that something could be a little rotten in Denmark. On the other hand, writes LIDOVE NOVINY, if one were to take the Communists at their word none of their 16 MPs gave their voice to Mr Zaoralek in the 2nd round, which means they must have given their voice to Mr Klaus. The paper writes that clear government opposition has been born in the form of the Communist Party and the Civic Democrats.

Various conflicts in who would support who were even more evident in parliamentary voting to determine new six nominated deputy speakers: only 2 MPs were finally nominated, while four failed twice in their bids in two rounds of voting. PRAVO writes that the secret ballots became an example of each side vetoing the other's nominees: in that light perhaps the biggest losers on Thursday were the Freedom Union's Hana Marvanova and the Communist's Vojtech Filip. Ms Marvanova came close to being nominated twice, first getting 95 votes, than 99, just one vote short of the majority with 199 MPs present; Mr Filip crashed out with just 47 votes in the 2nd round. PRAVO writes that parties will have till next week to try and drum up new support for their candidates.


Turning away from politics now to a subject quite gruesome: MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that after two years of investigation Czech police have unravelled the identity of the so-called "Vinohrady Butcher" - a moniker given to the murder suspect after the Prague district where he operated. Though almost forgotten today, writes the paper, the case got extensive coverage in 1999, and it now appears that the killer was a native of Kyrgyzstan, who killed a fellow countryman in order to get his hands on more than 16,000 U.S. dollars. The suspect has since returned home. The murder was particularly gruesome in that the victim's body parts were found in garbage containers all over the city. Czech police will now hand over the complete criminal file to Kyrgyzstani officials so that they may prosecute the suspect at home: the Czech Republic does not have an extradition treaty with that country.


In more positive news PRAVO features an article this Friday on a music festival called Barvy Ostravy, or the Colours of Ostrava, set to get underway in Ostrava, the famous industrial town. Organisers are saying that Ostrava will no longer be grey, the festival featuring music venues such as the group Senses, one of the big discoveries in world music last year, the paper writes. PRAVO features a photo of the group in traditional and colourful Indian garb.


Finally, looking for adventure? You don't have to look farther this Friday than HOSPODARSKE NOVINY's weekend supplement, which offers an interview with Miroslav Caban, the first Czech to ever climb Mount Everest using the so-called alpine method. That means basically climbing Everest the hard way: without using a system of acclimatisation through repeated returns to base camps, and without relying on the use of oxygen canisters. Caban reveals that he got to spend a whole hour on the world's highest peak. He also describes how a local expert in Katmandu did not even bat and eye when told of the feat, which strikes Caban as poignant. In other words, it's seems it's not important how you get there, but that you do: Caban did, and became just the sixth Czech to conquer Everest overall.