02-05-2001

Most of today's papers feature articles on yesterday's May Day rallies and all of them seem to be perplexed by the peaceful behaviour of most of the participants concerned. Almost all papers report on the heavy police presence, amid fears of clashes between anarchists and far-right skinheads. They compare, with an air of barely disguised pride, the peace and quiet in the Czech Republic with the battles fought by opposing groups in Berlin, London and Sydney.

PRAVO features an interview with the President of the Czech Union of Judges, Jan Vyklicky. Mr Vyklicky tells the paper that judges are forced to work with below average legislation and a critical shortage of courtrooms. He adds that the state of the judiciary does not comply with EU norms, and blames the Czech government for turning a blind eye to the complaints of the judiciary and giving the Minister of Justice far too much power over judges.

MLADA FRONTA DNES warns of chaos in Prague's streets this year and tells motorists and pedestrians who visit the centre of Prague that they will have to brave dug up streets and tram tracks, as some 3,000 building projects have been approved for this year alone. The paper says that several construction companies were forced to postpone their projects until this year, as they were not given permission due to two of last year's biggest events - the Annual Meeting of the IMF and World Bank and the Prague - European City of Culture project.

"Bulgarians confiscate tons of weapons from Czech Republic", reads a headline in today's LIDOVE NOVINY. The paper reports on a Ukrainian-registered plane, which is currently being held at Bulgaria's Burgas airport carrying weapons worth some 250,000 U.S. dollars. The plane arrived in Bulgaria from the Czech Republic, and was detained after its pilots asked for permission to fly to the Eritrean town of Asmary. The supply of weapons to Eritrea breaches a UN and EU arms embargo.

The Czech Foreign Ministry admitted on Monday afternoon that it gave permission for the plane to take off in the belief that the weapons were bound for Georgia, and not for Eritrea. The paper says that the head of the Bulgarian secret service, General Atanas Atanasov, has said that the plane will be detained until Bulgaria has received an explanation from the Czech Republic and Georgia.

Today's PRAVO reports on an attack on a 52-year old man by a group of football fans in the North Bohemian town of Liberec. The paper says that whilst people were watching a live TV transmission of Verdi's opera "Othello", one of the orchestra's members, Jindrich Bubenicek, was attacked on his way to the theatre. The group of Sparta Prague fans surrounded him and demanded his mobile phone. He refused, and received a broken thighbone for his bravery.

ZEMSKE NOVINY says that ever more town halls are limiting the use of the Czech postal service to save money and speed up the delivery of their mail. Instead of sending social security by post, people come directly to their local town halls to pick it up or have the money transferred to their bank accounts. In other cases, a messenger - most of the time a student - is hired to do the job. Sometimes, a member of staff makes the deliveries, the paper says.

02-05-2001