27-05-2003

The latest scandal to hit the Czech Republic is splashed across Tuesday's front pages. "Where are NATO's top secret documents?" asks the lead headline in Mlada Fronta Dnes, aptly placed next to a snapshot of NATO Secretary General George Robertson and Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. Mr Robertson could see for himself how secret documents are handled in the Czech Republic, the paper says.

Commentators note that Jan Kavan appears to be able to survive any number of political goofs and scandals. Anyone else would have been forced out of politics long ago, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. Mr Kavan may be a good diplomat but he is certainly not a trustworthy politician, writes Hospodarske Noviny. The president of the UN General Assembly should have no trouble landing a good job when his term in office expires, says Lidove Noviny, but hopefully not in the services of the Czech state.

This highly embarrassing incident for the Czech Foreign Ministry has somewhat overshadowed the success of the Czech police force - "two out of four blackmailers in jail," reports Mlada Fronts Dnes. Both cases presented a public threat and the police have received high praise for their work.

A complacent police chief took the opportunity to chastise the media for hindering police investigations. He pointed out that daily in-depth reports about these cases not only hampered police work but served as an inspiration to others. Lidove Noviny's commentator does not agree, arguing that the role of the media is to provide information - not fight crime or protect the public. Does health insurance cover maggots, asks Pravo, referring to an unprecedented case in which Czech doctors saved a man's leg by using so called "maggot therapy". The maggots feed on dead cells and moreover exude a substance that kills bacteria. They help to clean and heal a wound fast but the treatment is fairly expensive. The method is used in Great Britain, the United States and Scandinavia, and it seems that the Czech Republic is ready to follow that example, Pravo says.

Mlada Fronta Dnes has interviewed a member of the Czech rescue team which flew to Algiers in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake. It was total chaos, says Marketa Nedvedova, of her arrival on the site of the disaster. There were people trapped under the rubble and their families and friends were desperately trying to dig them out.

We wanted to get to work with the sniffer dogs but it took a while before they let us take over. They were amazed that a woman could be part of the rescue team, and after a while I just pulled my hair under my hat and pretended to be a man, Ms Nedvedova says. The team helped to dig out victims but failed to find anyone still alive under the rubble.

And, finally, the same paper reports that parliamentary deputies for the Civic Democratic Party are calling for a change in traffic legislation which would reduce the permitted speed limit for buses. The move comes in the wake of a series of bus accidents - the latest of which injured twenty four people.

The lower house of parliament is to debate the proposal at its next session.

27-05-2003