25-05-2001

LIDOVE NOVINY carries a cartoon depicting the Prime Minister Milos Zeman with a paint brush in his hand, walking away from a wall bearing a fresh inscription reading "Zeman For President". The paper devotes one whole page to speculation about who might be the Czech Republic's future president. Rumours have it that the prime minister may be listed as one of the candidates for this post.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that Zeman's Social Democrats are afraid to discuss the issue openly, but when a journalist promises not to disclose their names, they say Mr. Zeman's presidential candidacy is not unrealistic. One of them told the paper, though, that 'Mr. Zeman himself does not talk about the issue much'. While the prime minister, himself an economist, recently described president Vaclav Havel as an amateur, Mr. Havel shot back by saying he sees a society that places economy above justice, culture and morale as dangerous.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a new law approved by the Lower House on Thursday, under which dishonouring human remains will now be qualified as a crime. The new legislation, submitted by Christian Democrat MPs, is in reaction to the growing number of cases of vandalism at cemeteries throughout the country, writes the paper.

The article describes a case that happened in March in the village of Luzice in South Moravia, when an 18-year-old drug addict tore out the flowers and knocked down the tombstones of 50 graves. Although he had caused damage worth 400 thousand crowns, or 10,000 US dollars, he could not be brought to trial. Under the new law, vandals like him could spend up to three years in prison, concludes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

The centre-right Freedom Union party is preparing to submit a bill that would introduce school fees at Czech universities, says today's PRAVO. The bill's creator, Petr Mateju, proposes that in the first year the fee would amount to 14 thousand crowns - around 400 dollars - a year, while in the following years each university would set its own fee.

Mr. Mateju's idea envisages reducing state subsidies through this plan, and setting up a special fund from which students who are not well-off enough could receive loans. Although there's fierce opposition against the introduction of school fees from the ruling Social democrats and the Communists in the Lower House, the centre-right Freedom Union, with tacit support from the Civic and Christian Democrats, has a good chance of passing its ideas through parliament, writes PRAVO.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY carries an amazing story about two wild boars causing a mess in the streets of Prague on Wednesday night. They showed up in the Prague 4 district walking through three quiet lanes and proceeding towards a slip road to a motorway leading from Prague to Brno. After a successful trip to town, the two boars quietly returned to the nearby forest.

The wild boar population has grown too rapidly, explains ZEMSKE NOVINY, and so they can be seen on roads quite often. Their trips have a dark side as well, as they have caused over a thousand car accidents since the beginning of the year.

25-05-2001