12-02-2001

Repercussions of the Czech TV crisis make the main headlines in the Czech papers today. The main concern is what will become of members of the management who were installed by the former director Jiri Hodac, and who tried to dismiss rebel journalists. The papers also examine Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla's bid to become leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

LIDOVE NOVINY discusses the acceleration of Czech preparations for EU membership. It writes that the Czech Republic has abandoned some of its demands for exemptions from EU legislation. Originally, the Czech Republic was asking for transition periods for liberalisation of the energy market, VAT on telecommunication services and fuel and environmental protection.

The paper says the development is partly due to EU pressure on candidate countries to reconsider their special demands, as well as the fact that dropping such demands could speed up the whole accession process, something the newcomers have been anxious to accomplish.

MLADA FRONTA DNES carries shocking revelations about the Czech Republic's Communist past. In the 1950's, the Communist regime allegedly snatched hundreds of newborn babies from female prisoners and either put them in orphanages or gave them to surrogate families, mainly from the ranks of Communist police officers and prison guards.

MLADA FRONTA DNES says the children, who are around forty or fifty today, have no idea what happened to them. The Bureau for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism says it is documenting the cases but won't have them taken to court because of ethical aspects of the issue.

The same paper reports that foreign companies prefer building new companies in the Czech Republic to buying existing ones. The reason is that on one hand, Czech workers are highly skilled and inventive, but on the other, they tend to use their skills and wits in the wrong way - many of them feel free to steal from their employers.

The paper mentions the case of a Czech liquor producer acquired by a Swedish company which was surprised to find out that half of the employees were stealing alcohol and selling it on to local pubs and restaurants. Of course, they all got the sack, MLADA FRONTA DNES writes.

In its lead story, ZEMSKE NOVINY warns its readers against eating too much salami, sausages and other smoked meat products as they contain large quantities of various chemicals. The paper writes that there are no norms or standards for production of such foodstuffs - every producer has its own recipe.

180 kilograms of ham, says the paper, contain only 100 kilos of meat plus 65 kilos of water, five kilos of salt and ten kilos of modified starch, stabilisers, flavour enhancers and other chemicals, including phosphates, the same substance found in detergents.

And finally, the business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY presents differing views on a tax hike which the Minister of Finance believes will be inevitable. While Minister Pavel Mertlik is convinced that the next government will have to raise income tax for individuals, economic analysts warn that the overall tax burden is already too high and a further increase will only demotivate people from running private businesses.

12-02-2001