28-05-2001

Almost all papers today feature photos of the smiling faces of two winners - newly-elected Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda, and Olympic silver-medallist Roman Sebrle, who made sporting history this weekend by breaking the 9,000 points barrier in the decathlon.

MLADA FRONTA DNES, however, says the Christian Democrat's party conference has failed to bring all the disputes within the party to an end. The paper refers to continuing friction between Mr Svoboda and the party's former deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek, who critics say was involved in some murky deals during his time at the Defence Ministry.

The dispute began when Mr Svoboda said openly that he didn't believe Mr Kalousek could be trusted with a post in the new shadow cabinet, formed by the Christian Democrats and their three allies in the opposition Four-Party Coalition. Mr Kalousek demanded that he provide proof to back up his allegations, or make a public apology. Having received neither, Mr. Kalousek now intends to take Cyril Svoboda to court, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

The paper says Mr Svoboda has no intention of apologising, quoting him as saying that he hoped Mr Kalousek would reconsider filing charges. The new party leader says there's nothing to gain from pressing ahead.

Also on the front page of MLADA FRONTA DNES today - 'Transport Minister Fails Driving Test!' The Social Democrat Transport Minister Jaromir Schling was left with egg on his face on Saturday, after failing his driving test. Well, to be fair, he wasn't taking his test for real, but was attending a seminar near the town of Zdar nad Sazavou on the country's newly approved highway code, which critics say is far too theoretical and doesn't deal with practical day-to-day situations.

For a bit of fun, says the paper, participants of the seminar were sat down and given the written part of the test. Mr Schling - a former driving instructor - got a number of answers wrong: he was stumped with a question about third party insurance, and managed to get his traffic signs mixed up.

But the minister is unrepentant, says MLADA FRONTA DNES - he says there's nothing wrong with the new law - which came into effect in January - and he sees no reason to change it.

Today's PRAVO reports that the Civic Democrats' shadow Defence Minister, Petr Necas, wants to write off part of Russia's debt to the Czech Republic in exchange for Russian military helicopters for the ailing Czech Air Force.

Mr Necas tells the paper that the country badly needs new aircraft, and if it could strengthen its air defences and reduce the Russian debt at the same time, it would be killing two birds with one stone. PRAVO says this has come as something as a surprise, since the Civic Democrats have raised deep fears over the reliability of Russian military hardware in the past.

"Austrians Violate Melk Agreement" says HOSPODARSKE NOVINY today, referring to Sunday's blockade of the Czech-Austrian border by Austrian anti-nuclear protesters, angry about the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The paper says that Austrian police refused to intervene during the three-and-a-half-hour blockade. This was despite the fact that the protest was unauthorised, and a violation of last year's Melk Agreement, which was meant to resolve the diplomatic dispute between Prague and Vienna over Temelin.

On a related note, LIDOVE NOVINY claims that students in Upper Austria are being brainwashed by their teachers over Temelin. The plant's head of operations, Jiri Tyc, says authorities in the region are using Communist-style tactics in their information campaign against Temelin, spreading fear and terror throughout the region.

The paper claims that three weeks ago, the education board in the town of Linz gave head teachers precise instructions about what information to give students, and in what manner it was to be given. Austrian anti-nuclear activists have denied Mr. Tyc's accusations, the paper says.

ZEMSKE NOVINY notes that the warm weather and blossoming flowers are no longer as welcome as they used to be, because more and more Czech citizens are finding themselves allergic to pollen. The paper says that this year, one child in four child is suffering from allergies, compared to one in ten in the 1980s.

What starts off with a running nose and itchy eyes can often end up in breathlessness and even asthma, says ZEMSKE NOVINY. What seems to be quite ironic, it goes on, is that the number of cases has also risen significantly among farmers, who should by now be completely immune to pollen.

28-05-2001