Press Review

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There is a wide mix of topics in today's Czech papers, many of them with a legal slant, but before we look at perhaps the top story in the news is President Vaclav Havel's trip to the United States. Mlada fronta Dnes features the president in a warm embrace with the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is herself of Czech descent.

There is a wide mix of topics in today's Czech papers, many of them with a legal slant, but before we look at perhaps the top story in the news is President Vaclav Havel's trip to the United States. Mlada fronta Dnes features the president in a warm embrace with the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is herself of Czech descent. The two met yesterday in Washington during a ceremonial unveiling of a statue of Czechoslovakia's first president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, in Washington. Later on Friday Mr Havel will visit Ground Zero in New York to commemorate the victims of September 11th .

Lidove noviny reports on a surprising turn of events in the trial of Milous Jakes and Jozef Lenart, both former dignitaries in Czechoslovakia's former Communist regime, who were accused of treason for wanting to legalise the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The case had been going on for seven years without any tangible results and now, Lidove noviny writes, state attorney Jiri Bednar has decided to change the charge or treason to attempted treason, which carries a far lesser sentence if either Jakes of Lenart are found guilty. The move comes just days after spokesman for the state attorney's office in Prague had claimed the evidence put together by the prosecution was strong.

Meanwhile Pravo covers a story on charges levelled against several top board members at the Czech Republic's Ceska Sporitelna bank, including Josef Kotrba, the husband of Education Minister Petra Buzkova. In all, six bank officials are accused of criminal activity in connection with improper property management and bad loans that are said to have cost the bank 970 million crowns or almost 35 million US dollars. Mr Kotrba has denied the charge, saying that no wrong-doing took place during his tenure from 1997 to 1999.

Staying with Pravo the daily features a small item on a knocking of heads between the director of the National Gallery Milan Knizak, and independent filmmaker Radim Spacek. It is not the first time that the out-spoken Mr Knizak has clashed head-on with another member of the Czech arts scene: the paper writes the latest clash came when Mr Knizak allegedly refused Mr Spacek and a television crew entry to the National Gallery's museum in Zbraslav, near Prague, to film the extent of damages there left by last month's floods. Filmmaker Spacek is calling for Mr Knizak's resignation as director of the National Gallery, while Mr Knizak has countered with a complaint at Czech TV, and has gone so far as to press charges against the TV crew for trespassing.

Finally, we leave legal matters behind and round-up this Press Review with a heartening story in Lidove noviny's weekend supplement covering the work of Indian national Kumar Wishwanatan, here in the Czech Republic. Mr Wishwanatan was instrumental in organising the redevelopment and reconstruction of a housing area in town of Ostrava in the eastern part of the country, previously referred to as "Stalingrad" by poor inhabitants, an area where, the paper writes, children used to play in filth and squalor. Because of Mr Wishwanatan's efforts in raising funds and petitioning local authorities, as well as bringing together Romany and non-Romany Czechs to work on the project, the area today has been transformed with four rows of new homes and 30 families now live there.