Press Review

Helena Vondráčková s Martinem Michalem, foto: ČTK

The papers today are dominated by the case of the collapsed bank Union banka and the alleged tapping of several Czech MPs' offices. MLADA FRONTA DNES and PRAVO carry large photos of 55-year-old Czech pop-star Helena Vondrackova wearing a wedding dress and carrying a bouquet of white roses. On Saturday, the pop legend married 44-year-old businessman Martin Michal at the medieval Karlstejn castle west of Prague.

Helena Vondrackova and Martin Michal, photo: CTK
The papers today are dominated by the case of the collapsed bank Union banka and the alleged tapping of several Czech MPs' offices. MLADA FRONTA DNES and PRAVO carry large photos of 55-year-old Czech pop-star Helena Vondrackova wearing a wedding dress and carrying a bouquet of white roses. On Saturday, the pop legend married 44-year-old businessman Martin Michal at the medieval Karlstejn castle west of Prague.

Starting with LIDOVE NOVINY, the daily features an interview with Jan Sokol, the man who looks like becoming the ruling coalition's presidential candidate for Friday's election. Speaking about his vision of the future of the European Union, Mr Sokol told LIDOVE NOVINY he would like to see the emergence of an EU government and constitution. Only then, Jan Sokol told LIDOVE NOVINY, should the EU introduce the institute of president.

Mr Sokol also said that in his opinion the EU's member states should have a common foreign and defence policy. To the topic of possible military action against Iraq, the 66-year-old university professor said it should only be taken with a new Security Council mandate. Jan Sokol also said that although horrible, war is sometimes a necessity.

PRAVO writes about Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda's statement published in Saturday's LIDOVE NOVINY, saying if a new president is not elected this Friday, Mr Svoboda's party, the Christian Democrats, will not back the state budget proposal. PRAVO says Mr Svoboda's statement could be interpreted as exerting pressure on the Social Democrats to vote for Jan Sokol, otherwise the ruling coalition will not agree on the key law and will face the possibility of collapse.

However, the foreign minister himself told PRAVO he never said anything of the kind. "It's a mistake, I never connected the presidential election with the backing of the state budget law," Mr Svoboda told the paper, adding he immediately phoned Prime Minister Spidla to inform him he had already published a denial through the CTK news agency.

On to MLADA FRONTA DNES, and the daily reports that the Supreme Audit Office has discovered a shortfall of about 2.5 billion crowns in the bookkeeping of the Ministry for Local Development, a sum which could buy approximately 2,000 new flats. The papers says, however, that not all of the money has necessarily been stolen, part of the deficit has probably been caused by errors in the ministry's accounts

Staying with MLADA FRONTA DNES, and the paper gives an account of last night's emergency at Ruzyne airport in Prague. A Czech Airlines jet arriving from London spent an hour circling above Prague after the plane's instruments reported that only one set of wheels was working properly. The crew and passengers as well as ground personnel were preparing for a crash landing but, luckily, it came to light that the instruments themselves were to blame.

On a lighter topic, MLADA FRONTA DNES carries a large photo of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla wearing a yellow t-shirt and blue tracksuit bottoms. Mr Spidla took part in a ten-kilometre run near the South Moravia town of Kromeriz. The paper notes the 52-year-old prime minister has improved his personal record by 10 seconds, finishing 198th out of 230 runners.