19-11-2001

Most of Monday's papers lead with stories concerning television magnate Vladimir Zelezny, the director of the Czech Republic's most successful commercial TV Station, TV Nova, who is charged with trying to cheat a creditor, the CME company, the station's original investor. The weekly Pravo writes that the chief investigator in the case Vladimir Machala has been provided with personal bodyguards after he received a threatening text message on his mobile phone just over a week ago, after Mr Zelezny was detained. The paper recounts the head of the Czech Republic's investigations office Miroslav Antl as saying that certain pressure had been exerted on the investigator, who was beaten up by unknown assailants in July. It is unclear whether or not the incidents are connected. Meanwhile commentary in Mlada fronta Dnes has tried to put Mr Zelezny's trial in historical perspective with regards to the Czech Republic's privatisation process, saying that Mr Zelezny is the last great maverick of a period that ended with many of his contemporaries in jail.

Mlada fronta Dnes also pays a great deal of attention to the story of a priest who was charged over the weekend in the Breclav region for defamation of nation, race, and religion, because he published pamphlets urging citizens not to vote for the Czech Republic's Communist party during the last senate elections. In the pamphlet, the priest wrote that the Communist party represented a serious threat to democracy, and now his actions could land him two years in prison. While the paper writes that the tone of the pamphlets was alarmist, it is critical of the local head of the Communist party's decision to press charges in the first place.

Meanwhile Lidove noviny looks at a story of completely different dimensions, describing how visiting the dentist is going to become more expensive as the country prepares to join the EU. Three new laws in the Czech Republic bring the country's legislation in line with the European Union's, meaning that dentists will have to invest in new technology which will raise the price for customer services and high-quality dental care. The up-side is that customers can expect an increase in comfort with more modern and efficient tools, so that's a certain plus, considering how much most of us dislike going to the dentist's...

And we go from the dentist's chair to the pilot's cockpit in Hospodarske noviny's main story, which examines the controversy surrounding the Czech Air Force's L-159 subsonic fighter jet project. The project has been plagued by technical faults which led to the air force's grounding of all its L-159 planes last week. The manufacturer, Aero Vodochody, has promised to put all the problems in order, and Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has indicated that provided the company and the Defence Ministry come to an agreement the planes should be flying again soon...

And finally the Prague daily Prazske Slovo looks at n alarming phenomenon of organised gangs that are cutting down and stealing Christmas trees just weeks away from the holiday. Thieves have raided forests around the Czech countryside to cut down evergreens and there is very little that anyone can do, the paper writes Forest rangers have been called upon for their help, and in some areas entering the forest has even been banned, with anyone caught in the forest perimeter automatically receiving a 1000 crown fine. Some areas are relying on an unpleasant smelling repellent to make the trees unattractive for indoor use, while other places have taken to breaking some branches on their trees to make them less appealing.

19-11-2001