Press Review

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

NATO -divided over Iraq, record unemployment in the Czech Republic, reports of widespread corruption in a Czech prison and who will be the next head of state - those are the lead stories on today's front pages. Somewhat in the shadow of these developments is the news that over 200,000 people in the Czech Republic have succumbed to a flu epidemic.

NATO -divided over Iraq, record unemployment in the Czech Republic, reports of widespread corruption in a Czech prison and who will be the next head of state - those are the lead stories on today's front pages. Somewhat in the shadow of these developments is the news that over 200,000 people in the Czech Republic have succumbed to a flu epidemic.

Speculating on who will be the Czech Republic's next head of state has become a national pastime. After the furore created by the suggestion that Karel Gott -a Czech pop legend - would make a great head of state, more suggestions have been pouring in. In Mlada Fronta Dnes' Hyde Park column the Czech born film director Milos Forman asks - why has nobody thought of Karl Schwarzenberg, a member of the old nobility. "As a cynic I love Czech politics" Forman told the paper.

Lidove Noviny says - forget about men - cherchez la femme! And it has filled half a page with snapshots of possible lady-presidents, among them a pop singer, a TV anchorwoman, a sportswoman and Madeleine Albright, the Czech-born former US Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, ongoing political negotiations aimed at finding a widely acceptable candidate for the third round of presidential elections suggest that the broad debate on whom the public would fancy as its next head of state has mobilized deputies into taking some serious action. As Mlada Fronta Dnes notes, this is the politicians' last chance to push through "one of their own" - or at least make some political capital by striking a good bargain. In a direct vote they would lose all influence on the future head of state and that is not a prospect they relish, the paper notes.

The two serious candidates left in the race are the former prime minister Vaclav Klaus and newly nominated Jan Sokol, an academic and former education minister. The papers carry a number of interviews with them and - not surprisingly - it is Vaclav Klaus who comes across as the more confident of winning in the third round. "My chances are higher" Klaus told Lidove Noviny, and many observers agree that a seasoned politician would have an edge over an academic. "The weaker our opponent the better" the Civic Democrats say of Mr. Sokol.

Pravo carries a report that is a shocking indication of how easy it is to squander state finances. The police have charged a young waiter with fraud for posing as personal assistant to several parliament deputies, including the Chairman of the UN General Assembly Jan Kavan and chartering private planes to fly him to ten exotic locations. His deception was uncovered purely by chance when on a trip to Sri Lanka he failed to get clearance from the Indian authorities for a flight over India. In addition to his travel and hotel expenses the Czech Parliament also paid for a team of bodyguards who accompanied the waiter on every one of his holiday trips.

And finally, schools have different ways of fighting against drug-abuse. According to Mlada Fronta Dnes the headmaster of a high school in Cheb, western Bohemia, is determined to put an end to drug abuse on the premises and conducts random urine tests in his office targeting students whom he or colleagues suspect of drug abuse. Opinions are divided as to whether he is not overstepping his powers -but the headmaster maintains that he is responsible for the students while they are at school and is determined to protect their health as best as he can.