Press Review

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Domestic news dominate today's front pages with three big stories jostling for attention: the deepening government crisis, the biggest bank robbery in the country's history and two former communist top officials charged with treason for their part in the 1968 Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Domestic news dominate today's front pages with three big stories jostling for attention: the deepening government crisis, the biggest bank robbery in the country's history and two former communist top officials charged with treason for their part in the 1968 Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia.


Who's got the upper hand in the power game that politicians are now playing? And, will this crisis give the communists the power to influence government decision making? Those questions are analyzed from every conceivable angle. Lidove noviny says that the center right Freedom Union, the smallest coalition partner, which stands to lose everything in this dispute, has neatly check-mated the Prime Minister by saying that it will not leave the government unless the coalition agreement between the three parties is officially cancelled. This leaves the Prime Minister in a tight spot, says Lidove noviny. With or without the Freedom Union his Cabinet faces big problems.

Mlada fronta Dnes notes that the crisis has divided the Social Democratic party into two camps: a communist-oriented lobby and those in favour of another opposition deal with the centre right Civic Democrats. Both the Civic Democrats and the Communists appear to have grown in stature overnight, the paper notes. They have prepared their bargaining chips and are making public some of their demands. The Prime Minister is aware of the pitfalls, says Lidove noviny and he's working day and night to save his Cabinet.

Pravo, has a very similar view of the present situation, noting that in this crisis the PM is a very lonely figure indeed, who clearly lacks the fortitude of his predecessor Milos Zeman. Zeman would have retained a tight hold of the reigns, both in his own party and in Cabinet, the paper notes. Although ostensibly outraged by the precipitated crisis, many Social Democrats are now rubbing their hands in glee , anticipating a new power sharing deal-either with the communists or the Civic Democrats. In either case, Mr. Spidla would not be considered a suitable partner, Pravo says.


The trial of two former communist party officials, Milous Jakes and Josef Lenart, for their part in the 1968 Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia has generated enormous media interest. If it weren't such a tragedy it would be a laugh, says Mlada fronta Dnes of the first day of the trial. Both Jakes and Lenart allegedly made flimsy excuses, suffered from memory loss, and on numerous occasions drew laughs of derision and scorn from the court.

The paper cites the former communist PM Lenart as saying that there may have been some soldiers somewhere, but he didn't see many himself in the streets of Prague, while the former general secretary Milous Jakes told the court that members of the party 's executive committee were as much in the dark about what was going on as everyone else. "When we stopped at Mlynar's home to pick him up we found him hiding behind a garbage can" the former communist party secretary said in his account of the 1968 developments.


And finally, in an article entitled " Dying in accordance to the law" Pravo slams Parliament for failing to respond immediately to the shocking news that due to a bungled legislation Czech doctors are unable to perform transplants of vital organs. It has recently come to light that -according to this law -an autopsy must precede donor-ship, which makes transplants virtually impossible. Many doctors are knowingly breaking the law in order to save lives, in cases where they adhere to the law someone loses a chance of getting a new heart or liver. If ever a situation required swift action - this is it - Pravo says - so what are our deputies waiting for?