Press Review

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Czech Roma asylum seekers and their right to collect social benefits while requesting asylum abroad make the top story in most of Friday's papers. All the dailies also pay a great deal of attention to the court decision which ruled that Jiri Balvin, general director of Czech Television, is not the legal head of the station.

Czech Roma asylum seekers and their right to collect social benefits while requesting asylum abroad make the top story in most of Friday's papers. All the dailies also pay a great deal of attention to the court decision which ruled that Jiri Balvin, general director of Czech Television, is not the legal head of the station.

Lidove noviny writes that the new Health Minister Marie Souckova wants to collect an extra 1 Czech crown on each package of cigarettes or bottle of alcohol. The money would go to a Fund for Medical Research and Development that Ms. Souckova plans to create by the end of the year. The Fund would provide financial resources for expensive operations and further education and internships for Czech doctors at the world's leading clinics.

A man in Prague got a shock on Thursday when he went to the toilet, only to find it was already occupied by a large red snake, says Mlada fronta Dnes. The man immediately called the police. An expert who came to remove the snake said that although the red Canadian smooth snake is not poisonous, it could have caused the man some pain if it had bitten him. The snake is a constrictor, nearly 1 meter long, with rather large fangs. It is not so rare that a snake escapes from its owner, writes the paper. Apparently, they like to hide in bathrooms or trash cans and sometime lay eggs.

Turning to Hospodarske noviny now. The paper introduces a newly published collection of stories and its author Kveta Legatova, a lady in her 80s whose name has appeared among Czech literary writers only recently. In the early 1990s Ms Legatova sent one of her stories to a screenplay competition where a scriptwriter discovered it, believing it was a powerful story that could be turned into a film.

He then began searching for the author and discovered an elderly, well-educated woman. Ms. Legatova was able to offer more fascinating stories, all taking place in a small village of Zelary before WWII. A film based on Ms Legatova's debut called Zelary and her new book set in the same village during the Second World War is scheduled to arrive in cinemas in September.

Mlada fronta Dnes reports on an extensive police operation which shut down the Prague Cash and Carry Makro and the adjacent parking lot on Thursday. For nearly an hour, the area was swarming with masked policemen and bomb disposal experts, as well as angry people who came to shop in Makro. The reason behind the swoop was an attempt to sell 50 kg of semtex explosive.

According to Pravo, President Vaclav Havel didn't know that he had granted amnesty to someone who at the time was facing new charges for tax fraud and damaging the interest of a creditor. A farmer called Jiri Cermak was sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison last year for embezzlement and fraud. In 1994 the State Fund for market regulation gave him a large amount of wheat to store but when it began decaying, Mr Cermak used it as cattle feed. Later he paid the Fund full compensation for it.

President Havel decided to grant Mr Cermak amnesty because of his serious health condition but also because it is believed that he didn't have any intention of causing harm. Further, the presidential office says, that the new charges would not necessarily deter Vaclav Havel from granting the amnesty.

And finally, Hospodarske noviny follows-up with the illegal techno music festival that took place last week. The event saw some 12,000 people and went on for 6 days until it ended on Wednesday. According to public health officials, the music exceeded acceptable noise levels. The party also produced a large amount of rubbish that was left to the locals to clean up. The organisers may have to pay a fine amounting to as much as 2 million Czech crowns but first the police need to find them. That's not so easy, says the paper - the organisers are in hiding abroad.

Author: Kamila Rosolová
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