11-10-2002

All Friday's front pages are dominated by photos of the leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, who announced on Thursday that he is stepping down, saying he wants to run for president. Most papers also report on a Czech Airlines captain who was detained by the British authorities in Birmingham on Monday morning after they found a weapon in his luggage. And this year's recipient of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature, Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz also makes the front page news today.

Whilst photos of a smiling Klaus, a depressed Klaus, and even a shocked Klaus that are featured today give a mixed view of the Civic Democrat's actual state of mind, all papers agree that the founding father of the Civic Democratic Party knew he would lose the battle for the party leadership and will also lose the battle for presidency. PRAVO writes that since Mr Klaus only has the support of his party colleagues so far, it is highly likely that we are approaching the end of an era of three significant post-Communist politicians - the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Czech President Vaclav Havel, and Vaclav Klaus, who has led his party for over eleven years.

Both LIDOVE NOVINY and MLADA FRONTA DNES devote several pages to Mr Klaus' past, present, and future, including reactions to his decision, speculation, and lots of photographs. MLADA FRONTA DNES even carries a caricature drawing of a proud Mr Klaus dressed as a Roman leader holding a shield with his face on it. On its front page, the paper interviews former prime minister Milos Zeman and quotes him as saying that Mr Klaus was the most sore loser he knew. "If I were to compete against him in the presidential elections, I would defeat him", it quotes Mr Zeman as saying.

Many of today's papers also feature photos of the grand opening of Electro World - the biggest electrical appliance shop in the Czech Republic, which is owned by the British firm Dixons. The photos, however, do not feature the shop itself but a large crowd of people trying to force their way into it.

Some of them, attracted by advertised low prices, even set up tents in front of the store on the night before the opening. A policeman, responsible for security around Electro World tells MLADA FRONTA DNES that security guards were overwhelmed by visitors who rushed in from all sides.

Not even cries of warning such as "Don't push, you will step over each other" were successful in stopping the thousands of visitors. PRAVO reports that Prague's transport system collapsed as people made their way to the store in the very early hours of Thursday morning, using all methods of transport - metros, buses, trams, cars and some even set off on foot.

LIDOVE NOVINY as well as most of the other main papers reports on Monday's detainment of a Czech Airlines captain who was caught carrying a weapon in his luggage. The pilot was about to board a plane from Birmingham to Prague when a sports pistol was found in his bag during security checks.

The pilot claims he regularly shoots as a hobby and simply forgot to take the gun out of his bag before leaving for Birmingham. If his statement is true, then security checks at Prague's Ruzyne airport have failed, the paper writes and quotes an airport representative rejecting the accusations, saying that all checks were carried out as required.

11-10-2002