Press Review

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Most of today's headlines focus on the damage caused by last week's floods. All the papers carry photographs of the Spolana chemical factory which leaked out dangerous chlorine gas last week, although Lidove noviny's picture accidentally shows a coal-burning power station instead of the Spolana plant.

Most of today's headlines focus on the damage caused by last week's floods. All the papers carry photographs of the Spolana chemical factory which leaked out dangerous chlorine gas last week, although Lidove noviny's picture accidentally shows a coal-burning power station instead of the Spolana plant.


And we begin with an alarming article in Hospodarske noviny which writes that last week's floods damaged much of the Czech Statistical Office, located in Prague's Karlin district - one of the worst hit parts of the city. The water got into the central computer network, destroying important data, the paper reports. It quotes the office's director Marie Bohata, who says that the restoration of data on economic development, prices, and wages will have priority. The entire election results will also have to be re-processed. The Czech government is waiting for gross domestic product figures for the first half of the year in order to finish its evaluation of next year's state budget, and some of this data may also have been destroyed, as well as data collected during the recent national census.

Although back-up files have been made, it is yet to be determined how much has been damaged. The office is also concerned over the processing of new data. Thousands of organisations and companies depend on statistics and will indirectly suffer the consequences of the floods. Since the country also depends on the collection of economic data to be presented to the EU before 2004, its entry to the union may also be slowed down. The Czech Statistical Office will now have to approach the government and EU organisations to cover the costs of repairing the damage. It is estimated to cost some 400 million Czech crowns just to restore the central computer system, the paper concludes.


Lidove noviny also stays with the floods reporting that preventive measures against the outbreak of diseases, especially Hepatitis type A, have begun. In Prague's Karlin district, 49 soldiers who took part in rescue work at the Central Military Archives were vaccinated on Tuesday. Although the paper quotes a health ministry official as saying that no cases of infection have been recorded to this date, everyone who took part in rescue and clean-up work in Prague - estimated at some 22,000 people - should be given the necessary vaccines by the end of the week.

Lidove noviny features another article on the front page, listing all the things that should not get into the sewerage system. Although the water has receded, problems are by no means over for residents of the affected areas, the paper says, warning that dozens of waste water treatment plants around the country are out of order. An official from Prague's water and sewerage system notes that all the city's waste is now going directly into the River Vltava. The paper says that it will take at least six weeks before emergency repairs can be completed.


And away from the floods, Pravo writes that the Czech television magnate Vladimir Zelezny, director of the highly successful commercial TV station Nova, has decided to run for the Senate as an independent candidate in the autumn elections. Mr Zelezny will be standing in the largely left-wing Znojmo district in southern Moravia. In the early 1990s he established a hotel and vineyard in the nearby town of Mikulov. Although he later sold them, he tells the paper that he continues to have emotional ties to the area.

Staying with the same topic, Mlada fronta Dnes adds that Mr Zelezny has often used one of his programmes in which he answers viewers' questions to lobby for support for Moravian wine producers against EU competition. The paper also says that Mr Zelezny's spokesman, Martin Chalupsky, was not ready to say whether the TV director would step down from his post if he were elected. Mlada fronta Dnes believes that a seat in the Senate would not provide Mr Zelezny with immunity against two criminal charges he is currently facing in connection with TV Nova. It quotes a lawyer as saying that political immunity can only prevent charges from being made but cannot stop criminal investigation that is already underway.