26-07-2002

All of Friday's dailies feature similar main stories. The Czech Central Bank has announced significant cuts in interest rates. As a result, Czech businesses will improve their financial standing and Czech citizens will be able to borrow money at more favorable rates. On the other hand, saving accounts will not be as profitable as they were in the past.

The Czech Republic was one of the last post-communist countries to sign an agreement with Vatican and establish rules for relations between the State and the Catholic Church - the story is also featured in all Czech dailies today.

Some of today's front pages lead with a report on a bus crash, which happened yesterday near the South Moravian town of Znojmo. The accident left a young woman dead and 34 people injured. The Czech tourist bus was returning from Greece. Lidove noviny Speculates that the driver of a passenger car in front of it suddenly put on the brakes and forced the bus off the highway.

All the dailies also cover the legal case involving a former high-ranking communist official and Czechoslovak Prime Minister, Lubomir Strougal. Yesterday, Mr. Strougal pleaded not guilty before an Appeal Court in Prague. He stood accused of abuse of power, as in 1965 he ordered to discontinue an investigation of state secret police officials who had been alleged of murdering three people.

Mlada fronta Dnes writes about other former high-ranking communist officials and their lives today. Most of them are retired and remain loyal to hard-line Communist ideals. 85-year-old Vasil Bilak, a former senior Communist Party official, continues to face charges for alleged past crimes, but he leads quite a comfortable life. He lives in one of the most luxurious neighbourhoods of the Slovak capital Bratislava, in a villa that was confiscated by the Communist regime from its political opponents.

Most of the papers report on a decision by Prague city council to increase rates for the film-industry to use the city for location shots. Shooting a film or a commercial on a historical site will cost five times as much as it used to. Hospodarske noviny quotes Jaroslav Vaculik from the company Czech Film Locations who is afraid that the high prices will make it impossible to shoot anything in the centre of Prague because the whole area has been designated as historical.

The second largest collection of light bulbs in the world can be found in Kralupy nad Vltavou near Prague as Lidove noviny has discovered. The owner is an entrepreneur Stanislav Slabyhoudek and his collection contains more than six thousand bulbs. The paper writes that Mr. Slabyhoudek first started collecting light bulbs in the 1960s. As his collection grew, he began to keep an inventory and file each bulb he had found. Some of the most precious pieces include bulbs manufactured by the Edison company more than a hundred years ago or a bulb from the film set for Amadeus that Mr. Slabyhoudek got from the director Milos Forman himself.

And finally, back to Hospodarske noviny and the paper informs readers about Japanese investments in the Czech Republic, which so far have given jobs to more than 21 thousand people. The Czech Republic has seen a boost in Japanese investments especially in the past two years. Apparently, Japanese companies perceive the Czech Republic as the best location for their investment in Europe.

26-07-2002