20-03-2002

Wednesday's front pages cover a wide variety of issues, perhaps the most interesting of them being a report in Lidove noviny that the opposition Civic Democrats have declared war on environmentalists. If the party comes to power after the elections in June, they want to strip the environmental lobby of state funding.

"It is definitely not the state's job to finance environmental activists," the Civic Democrats' Miroslav Benes told the daily, adding that taxpayers should not fund people who tie themselves to trees or block the building of motorways. Defending the environment is actually the job of elected representatives, Mr Benes is quoted as saying.

Mlada fronta Dnes also focuses on the environment. It carries the results of a poll in which politicians were asked which they considered more important, the environment or regional development. According to the survey the greenest party in parliament are Coalition - which includes the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats - while the Civic Democrats are the least interested in the environment.

Blesk has a report on the old industrial district of Holesovice, which - the paper says - is to become "Prague's London". By that they seem to mean that Holesovice will become Prague's equivalent of London's Docklands. Some 400 million crowns is being invested in turning part of the area by the River Vltava into an upmarket district with luxury flats and even a marina.

An incident in Plzen on Tuesday in which a 13-year-old boy was stabbed in the stomach by another boy two years his senior has led to a special report on violence among school children in Mlada fronta Dnes. The paper says that the incident was the third such violent attack this year, adding that this is a wholly new phenomenon in the Czech Republic.

Both Hospodarske noviny and Mlada fronta Dnes carry photos of stickers reading "the Sudeten lands were German and will be again", which have appeared in Karlovy Vary in west Bohemia. Similar stickers appeared in Prague last month.

Most people would be up in arms if their rent was more than doubled in one go - and that is precisely what has happened to stallholders on Prague's Charles Bridge, reports Mlada fronta Dnes. Stallholders had been paying 60 crowns per square metre a day - now they will have to pay 140 crowns.

The paper adds that the stallholders are part of an organisation called the Charles Bridge Artists Association. The organisation was founded in the early 1990s to ensure that people would not sell alcohol, cigarettes or Russian souvenirs on the oldest bridge in the city.

20-03-2002