Press Review

The top headlines of most of the major Czech dailies today deal with the diplomatic scandal caused by a Polish parliamentarian who took it into his own hands to arrest a Polish murder suspect on Czech soil last Sunday. The Czech Foreign Ministry filed an immediate protest with the Polish Ambassador in Prague, but PRAVO writes that so far Warsaw has not expressed an official stance over the incident.

The American proposal to include the Czech Republic in its missile defense system for Europe also gets coverage on the front pages of HOSPODARSKE NOVINY, MLADA FRONTA DNES and PRAVO. Washington believes that the Czech Republic can play a vital role in the defense shield because of the country's strategic location in Central Europe.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports that of all the Czech political parties, only the Communist Party has come out against the proposal. Experts from the US Department of Defense outlined their plan to the Czech defense minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, during his recent visit to the United States, but the Czech government insists that the decision to participate in the missile defense system will not be made solely by the minister, but by the whole government.

While Western leaders seek to protect their countries in fear of a possible missile attack, it appears that the Czechs no longer fear something that has threatened Europe in recent years - mad cow disease. The Czech's fear of BSE has passed, MLADA FRONTA DNES writes, as there has been no decrease in the sale of beef since the third case of the disease was discovered in the Czech Republic last week.

The impact of the recent floods continues to receive much press in LIDOVE NOVINY, with the newspaper focusing on the environmental effects of dangerous chemicals leaked from Spolana Neratovice plant, near Prague. Fruit and vegetable crops in the vicinity of Spolana have been severely damaged and continue to perish, with farmers from the area attributing the changes to 3,500 tons of chemicals from Spolana that leaked into the flood waters.

But while the crops in Neratovice are perishing, the three-year long "Anti-graffiti programme" in Prague is bearing fruit, the first sentences being handed down to four young graffiti artists from Prague 6. One youth received a six month suspended sentence, while the other three youths will each have to serve one hundred hours of community service. LIDOVE NOVINY reports that although twenty-six similar cases have been dealt with in the past three years, these are the first ones to receive such sentences. After the ruling, the youths told LIDOVE NOVINY that they would never graffiti again.