20-12-2000

One of the dominant topics on Wednesday's front pages is the raging battle over the future of Czech Television, the country's public television network. Is the supervisory board of Czech Television a mere puppet - and have political parties been imposing their views on personnel matters and programming? Most commentators are inclined to agree that there is indeed "something rotten" in the supervisory board of Czech TV.

In Mlada Fronta Dnes Jiri Lesctina claims that the members of the respective board are mere servants to those in power, arguing that the Social Democrats themselves had admitted they had actually voted on who they want to see in the hot seat of Czech Television. As for the Civic Democrats, at the time when party Chairman Vaclav Klaus was busy assuring reporters his party had no intention of lobbying for anyone in particular, across town another member of his party was doing just that, defending the party's hot favourite before a different group of journalists. Why don't they save themselves the bother and just nationalize Czech Television, Leschtina says, in a scathing editorial column.

Meanwhile, Pravo has ignored the facade and provides readers with a list of "who's who" as far as political preferences for the post go, naming two candidates whom the Civic and Social Democrats might find mutually acceptable.

Petr Pithart's re-election to the post of Senate Chairman also receives plenty of comment today. Lidove Noviny remarks on how appropriate it is that a man who changed party allegiance five times should now represent a four party coalition the key motto of which is "going for change ". Zemske Noviny, on the other hand seems far more interested in whether Petr Pithart will manage to improve the Senate's poor credibility record. He did woefully little in that respect during his prior term in office, the paper says.

Police are said to be investigating an incident which occurred during a police raid to capture runaway convict Jiri Kajinek. Kajinek escaped from a maximum security prison while serving a life sentence for three murders and was arrested a month later after police raided a flat where he was in hiding. A police spokesman has now revealed that during the operation the life of one of the officers was in serious danger.

While the officer was scaling the building from the roof in order to prevent Kajinek's escape from a side window, a tenant from the floor above started cutting his rope with a knife. The officer was saved at the last moment when another member of the team broke into the above flat and stopped the woman. The police spokesperson said the woman "knew exactly what she was doing" and would very likely be charged with attempted murder. Some of the woman's relatives are said to be doing time in prison.

And finally - do politicians have a sense of humor? Well, it seems the answer is 'yes', judging by a report in today's Lidove Noviny. Three senior Civic Democratic Party politicians sent as delegates to a conference of right-wing parties in Budapest, Hungary allegedly made use of the opportunity to lay flowers on the grave of the party's dead Hungarian benefactor Lajos Bacs. Revelations in the mid-1990s that a man the Civic Democrats claimed had given money to the party was not only Hungarian but also long-dead, created a major embarrassment and seriously damaged the party's credibility. Party leader Vaclav Klaus failed to appreciate the joke, however, and is said to be furious with the pranksters.

20-12-2000