Press Review

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The assassination attempt against French President Jacques Chirac during France's Bastille Day parade on Sunday dominates Monday's front pages. The papers carry detailed reports of the incident and Lidove noviny notes how much it resembles the assassination attempt against the former President Charles de Gaulle as described in Frederich Forsyth's book "The Day of the Jackal".

The assassination attempt against French President Jacques Chirac during France's Bastille Day parade on Sunday dominates Monday's front pages. The papers carry detailed reports of the incident and Lidove noviny notes how much it resembles the assassination attempt against the former President Charles de Gaulle as described in Frederich Forsyth's book "The Day of the Jackal".

Terrorism is a frequent front page topic nowadays, and as usual the papers have devoted plenty of space to hotbeds of tension around the world. The weekend massacre in Kashmir and an alleged plot to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by members of his own military who fled the country have received attention, as has the German claim that Bin Ladin is alive with 5,000 men under his command.

It's a dangerous world we live in, says Karel Steigerwald in Mlada fronta Dnes, and slams the Czech authorities for not paying sufficient attention to security matters. Last week's incident in which three teenage boys put the lives of 170 people at risk by smashing 11 runway lights at Ostrava airport and scattering the pieces of glass along the runway have shocked the nation and highlighted the fact that terrorists would have a very easy job in the Czech Republic. It is not just Ostrava airport, Steigerwald says. Not long ago Czech public television sent one of its reporters to test airport security and she walked across a runway and onto an empty plane without being stopped or questioned. It's an open invitation to terrorists, Steigerwald concludes.

On the home scene, the papers focus on Czech film makers' success at the 37th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary and the newly appointed Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla who spent the weekend giving interviews and running a marathon. As a result the country's new PM appears in two very different sets of pictures - in one case wearing a suit and tie and a serious expression in the other smiling in a bright yellow jogging suit as he overtakes another runner.

Hospodarske noviny has commissioned an opinion survey regarding the present level of public trust in the new Cabinet - and has found that 60% of Czechs think that Mr. Spidla's coalition government will do as well as or better that its predecessor - a Social Democrat minority government led by Milos Zeman which governed by the grace of the opposition right wing Civic Democrats. 30% of respondents - mainly supporters of the opposition Civic Democratic Party - think it will do much worse.

Pravo, meanwhile, has focused its attention on the outgoing Cabinet in a full page report entitled " They're leaving but they won't be out of a job." Some of the former ministers have retained their deputy posts in Parliament, others are going back to their former jobs - as for the former Prime Minister - he may still be in the running for President. The papers are at odds his chances of moving into Prague Castle. According to Mlada fronta Dnes Zeman's chances of becoming the next Czech president are currently higher than those of Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus. According to Pravo many Social Democrats, including party leader Vladimir Spidla, would not support Zeman as their candidate for president. According to Pravo's source Mr. Spidla wants someone who has prestige, broad support and would unite the Czech political scene.

And, on a lighter note, many of the papers report on a weekend event in the Czech Republic and neighbouring Germany. Sunday was International Elbe Bathing Day, an invitation for people to test the waters of one of Europe's longest rivers and find out for themselves how the quality of this formerly very polluted river has improved. Over two hundred people in the Czech Republic and some six hundred in Germany braved the cold water to take a dip. Despite the hot temperatures in Europe the water in the Elbe is a mere 16 degs C.