19-02-2001

There has been much discussion lately over the upcoming national census, and today's LIDOVE NOVINY features an article headlined "Public Vows to Lie in Census". The whole project could be a complete fiasco, writes the paper, because many people will either refuse to answer all the questions or deliberately give false answers. Czechs simply don't want the authorities to know their personal data, and neither do they want them to know about how many household goods or other property they own.

The latest opinion poll on the census shows that some 40 percent of those asked didn't want to give their name, address or their so-called "birth number" - the lifelong personal ID number given to every Czech at birth. People are mostly afraid that such data could be misused. The census will only be worthwhile if respondents tell the truth. People who refuse to answer questions can be fined up to 10,000 crowns, but the chances of uncovering deliberately false information are very low, concludes LIDOVE NOVINY.

PRAVO tells readers about an anonymous letter sent to President Vaclav Havel, threatening him with death unless he pardons double murderer Jiri Kajinek, who famously broke out of a maximum security prison last year after being given a life sentence. The spokesman of Prague Castle police, Antonin Manena, confirmed to PRAVO that the letter was real, adding that as is the case with all such threats the letter has been sent to police headquarters for analysis. Mr Manena told PRAVO that police might know who wrote it.

Mr Havel's security service has re-iterated, however, that the President was under constant protection from attack, whether he receives anonymous death threats or not. The police usually don't tell the media about anonymous letters, neither do they publish information about tightened security measures, writes PRAVO .

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on an expected heated debate in the Lower House this week on a new law on dangerous dogs. MPs will be trying to decide which breeds of dogs are dangerous, and whether they're just born dangerous or specially trained to be so. Czech dog breeders fiercely oppose the bill.

The spokeswoman of the Czech-Moravian Dog-Breeders Union, Vladimira Ticha, claims the bill is pointless because it only concerns one fifth of the country's canine population - those with a breeding certificate - while there are over 1 million dogs in the Czech Republic whose pedigree is unknown. She says there are no dangerous breeds, only dogs whose owner didn't train them properly. It's these people, not their dogs, who should be the subject of the new law, Mrs Ticha told MLADA FRONTA DNES.

People's fears of BSE, or Mad Cow Disease, might have serious social implications, writes ZEMSKE NOVINY, because the jobs of tens of thousands of cattle breeders and butchers are in jeopardy. The agricultural workers' trade union tells the paper that some slaughterhouses are now working just one or two days a week because of reduced beef consumption.

It's estimated that by the end of this year, there will be 40,000 cows in the Czech Republic which nobody will want to buy. Trade union leaders have said restoring public confidence in beef will cost large sums of money, says ZEMSKE NOVINY.

19-02-2001