01-12-2000

After an avalanche of reports on the current row between President Vaclav Havel and the government over the recent appointment of the new governor of the Czech National Bank, today's PRAVO looks at the problem from quite a different angle: the paper claims that the first lady, Dagmar Havlova, has entered the dissension in her own, emotional way. Through Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal, Mrs. Havlova has let Prime Minister Milos Zeman know that she would never shake hands with him again.

Minister Dostal, who broke the news, also informed PRAVO that Mrs. Havlova had called Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik the biggest liar in the universe. The prime minister did not make any comment on the news, he merely thanked her for the message and said he had acknowledged Mrs. Havlova's decision. The president's wife's emotional entry into politics is nothing new. She leapt into the limelight after having whistled in parliament when her husband was re-elected as the country's president more than two years ago.

Women, too, are to be punished for committing rape. The new law, debated by the lower house on Thursday, would be welcomed by lawyers and sexologists alike, writes LIDOVE NOVINY. The new legislation, which is likely to pass through parliament in the near future, will classify oral and anal sex as rape. This will be something brand new in the Czech legal code, as under the present law, in force since 1961, only women are rape victims. But if passed, the new legislation will consider forced sexual practices other than sexual intercourse rape as well. Perpetrators whose victims die, will face a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison, writes LIDOVE NOVINY.

ZEMSKE NOVINY features a photograph of a 35-metre-high monumental column in the North Moravian historical town of Olomouc, which was included on the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage on Thursday. The Holy Trinity Column, built in 1716, is Olomouc's dominant feature, and at the same time it's the largest grouping of Baroque sculptures within one single monument in Central Europe.

The column is the 10th historical monument in the Czech Republic to be included on the UNECSO cultural list. The mayor of Olomouc, Martin Tesarik, told ZEMSKE NOVINY that his town was very proud of the monument, and that the local town hall had allocated more than 15 million Czech crowns--that's some 400,000 dollars--for its renovation.

In connection with Tuesday's pile-up on the West Bohemian highway, which involved dozens of passenger cars and lorries, MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that many drivers have been complaining about the insufficient work of the police. The drivers say they should have been warned by the police that there was a pile-up in front of them. "I would have slowed down and driven more carefully," one German driver complained. The police says it couldn't do more than it did because it lacked the staff to do so. Moreover, adds the road safety department at the Transport Ministry, all of the policemen concerned were working at the site where the pile-up occurred. Transport police defend themselves by saying that in such misty weather all drivers should be tuned to special weather reports broadcast regularly on Czech Radio.

01-12-2000