Press Review

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All of today's dailies cover the same main stories. On the international front, it is Russia's open opposition to a war against Iraq and French President Chirac welcoming Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe in Paris that are making headlines. Domestically it's the death of a Nigerian diplomat and the collapse of the Czech bank, Union Banka, that have made the front pages.

All of today's dailies cover the same main stories. On the international front, it is Russia's open opposition to a war against Iraq and French President Chirac welcoming Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe in Paris that are making headlines. Domestically it's the death of a Nigerian diplomat and the collapse of the Czech bank, Union Banka, that have made the front pages.

The number of Czech children suffering serious illnesses is on the rise, warns MLADA FRONTA DNES. Ever more children are being forced to stand health problems that were attributed mainly to adults not too long ago. Doctors are now treating babies for rheumatism and toddlers with diabetes and painful gastrointestinal diseases. The paper quotes a doctor saying the number of diabetic children has been increasing by five percent yearly. Another doctor tells the paper that clean surroundings, sterile food, and numerous vaccinations make it difficult for a child's immune system to get necessary stimulation for the body's defence.

Most of the dailies look into the motive behind Wednesday's shooting of Nigerian Consul Michael Lekara Wayid. The seventy-two year old pensioner Jiri Pasovsky from the central Bohemian town of Melnik has told the police he had committed the crime out of hopelessness after a Nigerian company stripped him of several million Czech crowns in a bogus business deal, now leaving him largely in debt. Despite having been a respected doctor, PRAVO writes, his neighbours and acquaintances now say Mr Pasovsky has always seemed to be a bit of an "odd fish".

LIDOVE NOVINY, however, reports that according to police records, the country has several more similar cases. In the past eight years, there have been three waves during which Czechs were bombarded with letters from African countries offering lucrative business proposals. While they always end up proving to be scams, many Czechs have fallen into the trap. Although a special police unit has been set up to investigate the business scams, it has not been able to produce much result as communication with the African authorities is found wanting. "The authorities do not reply to our queries and sometimes we can't even find out whether the party offering the bogus business transactions really exists", the paper quotes a policeman as saying.

"Spectators want tickets even if there is no arena" writes HOSPODARSKE NOVINY, referring to the 2004 World Ice Hockey Championships that will be held in Prague if a multi-purpose arena is built in time. The paper says that the event could bring in almost three billion Czech crowns in tourism alone, based on estimates by the Czech Centre for Tourism. The paper quotes a representative of the company responsible for the sale of tickets who says some 300,000 ice hockey fans are expected to flock to Prague. Travel agencies around the world have already confirmed that interest in the championships has been on the rise.

And with just a week before the third attempt at a presidential election, the press can't go without a report on the latest developments. Jan Sokol, the man most likely to become the ruling coalition's first joint presidential candidate on February 28th, met with members of the junior coalition Freedom Union and journalists on Thursday, LIDOVE NOVINY writes.

With two previous candidates having lost public trust after news broke of their involvement in two separate road accidents, Mr Sokol was asked what surprising dark secrets in his past could be expected to surface in the future. His answer was simple "I have neither a car nor a driver's license".