04-05-2001

All the Czech newspapers today carry photos of the former Defence minister, Vladimir Vetchy, who was sacked on Thursday, as well as snapshots of his successor Jaroslav Tvrdik. The papers say the ministry has been paralysed, and Mr Tvrdik will have to exert a lot of effort to get it back to shape.

But onto a different topic now - the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant was brought to a standstill on Thursday, due to repeated technical problems. The plant will be shut down for at least two months, allowing technicians to remove all the defects, especially those which are causing excessive vibrations in the generator turbine.

MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that both Temelin's operators and suppliers hope that the repair work will not delay the plant from going into full operation in the near future. According to the original timetable Temelin should have started working fully on Thursday - now it's estimated that the first reactor will start producing power in August at the earliest. This, of course, is playing into the hands of anti-nuclear activists, both Czech and Austrian, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

LIDOVE NOVNY writes of a conflict on the horizon between the Czech Environment Ministry and the Netherlands. The Dutch government has donated the Czech Republic millions of crowns for producing a new law on the protection of the environment. But the reluctant approach of Milos Kuzvart's ministry, says the paper, could turn the project into a fiasco.

Representatives of the Eco-Political Institute, who have been working on the new legislation, maintain that Minister Kuzvart is breaking legal commitments, thus preventing the joint Czech-Dutch project from continuing. The Dutch side is reportedly outraged, and might consider withdraw its grant altogether. This could cause problems in the process of the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, concludes LIDOVE NOVINY.

Czech doctors are perplexed by a discovery by their Swiss colleagues, writes PRAVO on its front page. It explains that claims by Swiss doctors that sunscreen creams might speed up the development of skin cancer has left Czech dermatologists in shock.

Dr Sobeslav Fiker from the State Health Institute said he was amazed at the claims. "This is looking at the problem from a completely new angle," he tells the paper. He adds that doctors had always concentrated on protection against UV radiation, while the Swiss are examining the penetration of the cream into the skin.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY carries an article about child prostitution in Prague. The paper says in a a rather depressing revelation that there are children as young as eight or nine working on the streets as prostitutes. But while all of them used to be concentrated around the Main railway station in the centre of the city, a new law has forced them to disperse all around Prague. Last week, police detained four bosses running a child prostitute ring, but it's only a drop in the ocean, concludes ZEMSKE NOVINY.

04-05-2001