20-02-2001

The front pages of all Czech daily newspapers carry photographs of the angry face of one Ed Fagan, an American lawyer representing Austrian anti-nuclear activists who has vowed to stop the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power station from going into full operation.

In an exclusive interview for PRAVO, Fagan stresses that he's working for the anti-nuclear activists for free, because he's convinced that Temelin is dangerous. He also remarks that previously, he had often defended companies that polluted the environment or produced carcinogenic products, and didn't differentiate between good and bad guys when he chose his clients. Now, as he tells PRAVO, he's working for the good guys.

In another exclusive interview, this time for LIDOVE NOVINY, Ed Fagan says the Temelin case is a chance to improve his reputation as a lawyer. He asks why, if Temelin is really safe as the authorities claim, does the Czech government refuse to inform the public fully about the plant, and he calls on Czech politicians to move to Temelin if they're not afraid.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that the director of TV Nova, Vladimir Zelezny, is suspected of not paying taxes amounting to some 200 million CZK, or more than 5 million USD.

According to the paper, revenue officers are searching for evidence that Mr Zelezny somehow forgot to declare part of his income between 1995 and 1998. Mr Zelezny's fine art collection and properties are also under investigation. However, MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes a police officer as saying that the case is quite complicated.

ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that 163 people died in railway accidents in the Czech Republic last year. A Czech Railways representative explains that both pedestrians and drivers often drive around closed barriers.

People haven't got used to the fact that the maximum speed has been increased to 160 km per hour and trains are quieter, so they think they have a plenty of time to cross the tracks. On the other hand, Czech Railways does not have enough money to build multi-level crossings which would solve the problem.

And finally, the business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY discusses Trade and Industry minister Miroslav Gregr's ambitious plan to accelerate Czech economic growth by massive infrastructure investment. Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik told the paper that Mr Gregr's plan was extremely costly and questioned whether the government would be able to carry it out.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY also quotes experts who say that the only solution would be to quickly privatize the remaining state-owned companies, but the privatization process has been dragging on very slowly.

Another obstacle is the power-sharing pact between the ruling Social Democrats and the senior opposition Civic Democratic Party which is refusing to let the government increase the public deficit.

20-02-2001