Press Review

Soldier from anti-chemical unit, photo:

Once again topics dominating the front pages include the war on - and the prevention of - terrorism with both Mlada Fronta Dnes and Lidove Noviny describing the latest request that the elite Czech anti-chemical unit to be posted in Athens during this year's Summer Olympic Games. After last week's bombings in Madrid Greece asked NATO for Czech help to bolster security during the games but, as Mlada Fronta Dnes writes, nothing has been decided so far.

Many questions remain over the possible mission that will now be the subject of negotiation; some question whether the Czech unit should be deployed at all - for what is essentially a commercial event. A bigger problem that looms is the fact that there is simply no money left in the Czech military strongbox to send any more units abroad. Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that the Czechs are already stretched in missions in both the Balkans and Afghanistan, and if an Athens mission were approved, the money to send the anti-chemical unit to Athens would have to come from elsewhere, although from where exactly nobody knows just yet.

Continuing with military missions - all of today's dailies react to the unrest and violence between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo: Lidove Noviny features a painful image of a mosque in flames in the town of Nis. The daily writes that part of the Czech unit serving in KFOR that had been expected to return to Prague will now stay on to do its part in bringing the situation under control, as NATO sends in an additional 1, 000 troops, raising the total number to some 18, 000.

Kosovo,  photo: CTK
Together with the Slovaks the Czechs form a joint-battalion of some 500 men in Kosovo; Lidove Noviny notes that of the 500 wounded in conflicts so far dozens have been UN police and KFOR soldiers, including one Slovak who suffered concussion after being hit in the head by a stone. So far 31 Kosovars have died in the clashes reminiscent of violence in 1999.

Turning to the situation in the Czech Republic Friday's Hospodarske Noviny informs readers that within two weeks time the country's Constitutional Court will find itself in crisis: no longer able to strike down unconstitutional bills, unable to analyse international agreements, or even unable - if the need arose - to recall the president from his post. The reason, writes the daily, is because one of the member's mandates ends at the end of March, leaving just 11 out of 15 judges currently at the court. A minimum of 12 are needed for the court to be able to function.

According to Hospodarske Noviny the country's senators have complained the president has not nominated enough appropriate candidates to the open posts, helping lead to the upcoming crisis. Those are allegations Prague Castle denies. In the past some candidates were not recommended by the senatorial committee because they were deemed inappropriate, in some cases because of previous allegiances under the former communist regime.

Finally for this edition of Press Review: yet more proof that crime doesn't pay - not even when one counterfeits. Pravo tells the story of man arrested on Thursday after Czech police raided his home in Prague and his farm in Svitavy, where he had run a counterfeiting set-up in his barn. Found on the premises were some sixty-nine 500 crown notes he had created himself - for a counterfeit total of about 34, 000. That's around 1,400 U.S. dollars - not all that much considering the man could now serve between two to eight years in jail.