Press Review

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Under almost identical headlines, both MLADA FRONTA DNES and LIDOVE NOVINY lead with a story about the potential presidential candidates of the ruling Social Democrats, ex-Prime Minister Milos Zeman, ombudsman Otakar Motejl and former Justice Minster Jaroslav Bures.

Even the main photos on the front pages of MLADA FRONTA DNES and LIDOVE NOVINY have something in common. Placed on the same spot, they feature two women with a cause. MLADA FRONTA DNES features the American actress and singer Barbra Streisand criticising President Bush's attitude towards Iraq, while LIDOVE NOVINY shows Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova, but this time not as a political rebel.

Hana Marvanova is a lawyer by profession and this week she is defending some of the aggrieved clients of the bankrupt housing development company H-System, whose bosses are standing trial in Prague this week. Dozens of people lost hundreds of thousands of crowns each in deposits on apartments H-System was contracted to build, before it went bankrupt in 1997.

Back to the topic of presidents, PRAVO's front page seems to be dedicated to presidents of all countries and times. The paper's main story deals with the controversial post-war decrees signed by the Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes, legislation which sanctioned the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.

The Decrees will not hinder the Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union, PRAVO reports, as experts commissioned by the European Parliament proved the Benes decrees are not in violation of EU law.

PRAVO also carries an interview with the Moldavian President, Vladimir Voronin, and reports that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has authorised his commanders to use chemical and biological weapons if the US invades. Staying with the "presidential" theme, PRAVO quotes the Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla as saying he is not going to run for President although his name too was mentioned by his party colleagues as a potential candidate.

The paper also looks at which politicians are entitled to police protection and chauffeur-driven cars after their term of office ends. PRAVO notes that both ex-Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the former speaker of the lower house, Vaclav Klaus, are still taking advantage of this perk and will continue to do so until the end of October. The paper writes that according to an Interior Ministry proposal the President of the Czech Republic should be entitled to personal protection and a chauffeur-driven car for 10 years after he leaves office.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports on the failed privatisation of the state-controlled chemical giant Unipetrol. The winner of last December's tender, the company Agrofert, refused to pay some 11 billion crowns for a 63-percent stake in the holding. Now the Finance Ministry will recommend to the government to halt the privatisation process, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes.

On the other hand, LIDOVE NOVINY says that the government will have to repeat the privatisation, as those billions are badly needed in the state budget. According to the paper, the cabinet will either announce a new tender, or contact some of the unsuccessful bidders, but economists agree that the proceeds will not exceed the original amount.

The papers also feature obituaries of the Czech filmmaker and writer Milos Macourek, who died on Monday at the age of 75. Milos Macourek wrote screenplays to popular TV comedies in the 1960, but later shifted his focus to children's films. His cartoons and TV series from the 1970s and 80s were and still are adored both by children and their parents.