13-05-2003

Interior Minister Stanislav Gross in Brno, photo: CTKInterior Minister Stanislav Gross in Brno, photo: CTK The government's trip to Brno features heavily on the front pages today - Pravo shows Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and cabinet colleague Zdenek Skromach helping themselves to traditional Moravian cakes and glasses of wine in the town square, while Mlada Fronta Dnes features a rather intimate photo of Interior Minister Stanislav Gross kissing a member of a Moravian folk group. The government needs all the positive publicity it can get: the widespread public finance reforms unveiled in Brno have been criticised by both unions and right-wing economists.

Mlada Fronta Dnes also reports today on the first Czech to win the Woman of Europe award. She is 50-year-old Rut Kolinska, founder of the Mother Centre organisation, a network of community centres catering for the needs of women on maternity leave. Previous winners of the award include the former Irish President Mary Robinson.

Possibly unworthy of any award is the Czech justice system. As Mlada Fronta Dnes writes today, Alois Grebenicek - a former Communist secret policeman accused of torturing political opponents - made his eleventh consecutive non-appearance in court on Monday. Mr Grebenicek - the father of Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek - has spent the last six years avoiding court proceedings, something of a national sport in the Czech Republic.

And to use sporting terminology, writes Mlada Fronta Dnes: Grebenicek 11, Czech justice system 0. The court trying the case - in the south Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste - said Mr Grebenicek had sent them a letter announcing he was in a sanatorium and couldn't attend Monday's hearing. The judge in charge of the case - herself a former Communist Party member - has once again adjourned proceedings until June, writes the paper.

Meanwhile, Lidove Noviny reports on moves by former far-right Republican leader Miroslav Sladek to revive his political career. Mr Sladek, known for his rabble-rousing public appearances and striking physical resemblance to Mr Bean, recently became mayor of a village on the outskirts of Brno.

"If Hitler turned up tomorrow half the people here would turn up and start Sieg Heiling," says one local man, clearly angry at Mr Sladek's political comeback in his backyard. The right-wing extremist, prosecuted in the past for making racist remarks, was elected deputy mayor of Utechov in the autumn, and quickly launched a campaign to force the mayor out. On May 5th he succeeded, writes Lidove Noviny.

And finally a bit of positive news. Lidove Noviny reports how politicians in Upper Austria want to introduce Czech lessons at schools in the region, to foster closer business links following EU enlargement. If the people of Upper Austria are well-prepared for Czech entry to the EU, it will bring more opportunities for doing business in the country, say the politicians.

Lidove Noviny writes that the politicians want as many inhabitants of Upper Austria as possible to start learning the basics of the Czech language. They're trying to obtain EU funding to launch voluntary Czech classes in schools and other educational institutions. "If could be very important for an Austrian businessman to know a few words of Czech," says German teacher Hildegard Bok, from the University of South Bohemia. "At the very least it would give his Czech business partner something to smile about."

13-05-2003