Press Review

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All of today's front pages show president Havel leaning onto his wife Dagmar as he descends from his plane and into a waiting ambulance ready to take him to Prague's military hospital. The president's early return from a state visit to France has once again raised the question of his poor health and the taxing duties of a head of state.

All of today's front pages show president Havel leaning onto his wife Dagmar as he descends from his plane and into a waiting ambulance ready to take him to Prague's military hospital. The president's early return from a state visit to France has once again raised the question of his poor health and the taxing duties of a head of state.

Mlada fronta Dnes, Pravo and Lidove noviny have all devoted considerable space to the president's chronic health problems despite assurances from the president's physician that there is no serious danger and the president's hospitalization was merely "a precaution against possible complications".

Mlada fronta Dnes notes to what extent doctors now influence the president's life - they restrict his work activities, insist that he take health holidays several times a year, advise him against visiting places with adverse climatic conditions and insist that he avoid air-conditioned and dry places as much as possible since they tend to aggravate his lung problem. With only six months left of his final term in office thought there is no question that the president is determined to carry on his duties in spite of his poor health.

There's plenty on statesmen and health in the papers today since the former Soviet President Michail Gorbachov is currently in the West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary for what the papers describe as "a health cure". Mlada fronta Dnes reports that Michail Gorbachov drinks mineral water, jogs every day and is on a diet. The author of "perestroika" is the town's number one celebrity at present and according to the paper he is inundated with messages and requests from the public and the media.

Lidove noviny writes about the demise of the tabloid Super, which faces closure fifteen months after its first edition hit news stands. Super was doomed to fail right from the start, says Lidove noviny. It was weighed down by political propaganda. It had to give space to the "right people" and comment on the "right stories". No paper can flourish in such a stifling atmosphere. Possibly it was never meant to have a long life - merely to help the centre-right Civic Democrats to win the elections - speculates Lidove noviny. In that case it has taught other parties a valuable lesson - you can't win the elections simply by buying a paper.

Away from politics, there's a story in Mlada fronta Dnes that is hard to believe.

Town hall officials in the Moravian metropolis of Brno are said to have approved a resolution banning chemotherapy patients at a local hospital from visiting a neighbouring park because they allegedly "give off dangerous radiation" and are a health risk for healthy people, especially pregnant women and children.

The paper cites cancer specialists as saying this is complete rubbish and a shocking display of ignorance and prejudice on the part of the town hall officials. The paper itself has run a scathing editorial column on the case suggesting that someone should restrict the officials in question from movement in the park, town and possible the whole country since, unlike cancer, stupidity and prejudice can be highly contagious.