31-07-2001

The majority of the Czech daily newspapers feature the story of Telecom's acquisition of EuroTel for 57 billion Czech crowns. There is also coverage of the heat wave that is hitting Prague and the surrounding areas.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports that a European Union commission has declared Temelin, the controversial nuclear power plant near the border with Austria, to be safe. The commission made its decision after the plant passed 29 different safety standards. The report also attests that Temelin is as safe as nuclear power stations in Western Europe.

ZEMSKE NOVINY writes that revelers at a techno music festival, Czech Tech, are finally leaving the northern Bohemian town of Strazov. The event began last weekend, without the permission of the local authorities. Police attempted to break up the festival, but were not successful. Several party-goers were arrested, and many more were fined up to 2,000 Czech crowns - about 50 USD - for violating private property. Approximately 12,000 techno fans went to the event.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports that the head of the senior opposition Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, is critical of the British customs controls at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. Mr. Klaus maintains that the customs controls infringe on the sovereignty of the Czech Republic and that they should not be tolerated. The controversial controls are aimed at lessening the pressure on the British asylum system by preventing suspected bogus asylum seekers from entering the country. The airport controls have been described by human rights organisations as discriminatory against the Roma minority.

PRAVO writes that more and more Czechs are not paying their parking and speeding tickets, leaving the government to pick up the tab. The number of unpaid tickets has risen from last year, and the government is worried that the situation will get even worse. Unpaid tickets have so far this year amounted to almost a billion Czech crowns, or 2.5 million USD.

MLADA FRONTA DNES also reports on the growing number of beggars in the tourist quarters of Prague. A large majority of them are missing a limb, and an organised group takes them to their spot in the morning and carries them off again at night. Some of the beggars are reported to be foreigners seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, and have been waiting several months to gain legal status. There are an estimated 1,300 beggars in Prague, although begging is prohibited in the city centre, and punishable by a fine.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports on the protest by members of the religious group, Falun Dafa, that took place outside the Chinese Embassy in Prague on Monday. The group claims that the Chinese government has jailed 50 of its members because of their religious beliefs. The religion was banned in China in 1999, and many of its followers have been sent to prison or forced labour camps. There remain an estimated 70 million followers of Falun Dafa in China. According to LIDOVE NOVINY, the Chinese Embassy in Prague did not react to the protest.

31-07-2001