23-01-2001

All the papers report on the most important political events of the day, but none of them fail to find room on their front pages for the weather and the problems the massive snowfall has caused. And it's no wonder - we hadn't, up until the weekend - had any real snow. The owners of hotels in the mountain ski resorts were desperate, and there were even fewer skis and sleighs under the Christmas trees this year.

So, now that the snow has finally arrived, it's making the headlines. But they're far from happy headlines. The problem is that now there's too much snow, causing chaos on the roads and making a lot of people's lives very miserable indeed. MLADA FRONTA DNES describes - practically hour by hour - how the snowfall spread from the Western part of the country eastwards, stopping traffic and leaving whole areas completely cut off. The biggest problems were on the border crossings, which in many cases are situated on hilltops. Many trucks just couldn't make it, and ended up blocking the roads for all the other traffic.

But not everyone was unhappy with the state of affairs. PRAVO reports how the blocked trucks brought the prostitutes out on the infamous E55 highway leading to the German border. Regardless of the cold they turned out in bigger numbers than ever, trying to convince the stranded drivers that what they needed to keep themselves from freezing was a bit of body warmth.

And they certainly had the bodies to provide it: PRAVO carries a photograph of one young lady shoveling snow to get to the stranded cars. She's dressed in warm boots, a sleeveless jacket and the briefest of briefs. She and the other young ladies assured PRAVO's reporter they were not cold, and not at all unhappy.

But generally, Czechs don't tend to be very happy with their lot, as a summary of public opinion research carried out during the past year confirms. According to today's LIDOVE NOVINY, last year's opinion polls showed that while 65 percent of Czechs were satisfied with their newly-acquired freedom to travel abroad, access to information and general freedom, only 24 percent were happy with the general development of the country. Nearly 8 out of 10 Czechs say people in the Czech Republic don't enjoy equality, and they're far from happy with problems such as corruption and economic crime.

And the same paper, LIDOVE NOVINY, also publishes a detailed summary of theft in the Czech Republic last year. There were fewer of them in the year 2000 than in previous years before, largely because people have learned to be more careful, but the police haven't been any more successful in finding stolen property, and a high percentage of thieves tend to run free.

The highest theft rate in the country is in Prague and in the North Moravian industrial center - Ostrava. If you want to walk the streets in safety, the paper says, go to Southern or Eastern Bohemia, where the number of thefts is only one seventh of those in Prague. Maybe that's a useful hint for foreigners visiting the country.

As for the police, ZEMSKE NOVINY reports on plans for a major re-shuffle in top police posts. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross says it's to improve the force's work, but others say that it's just an attempt by the minister's party, the Social Democrats, to gain a bigger influence on the force. All the plans for the reshuffle were carried out in secret, and that has aroused fears amongst the opposition.

23-01-2001