18-06-2003

Most papers lead today with news that some of the country's doctors are planning strike action this Thursday, while other dailies, like LIDOVE NOVINY, trumpet former President Vaclav Havel's return to politics as a goodwill ambassador. And there's also coverage of the Roma families in Slany who are literally living on the street after being evicted for not paying rent.

Another story making headlines today is a controversial proposal put forward by deputy Prime Minister Petr Mares. As MLADA FRONTA DNES reports, Mr Mares wants the Czech Republic to compensate those ethnic Germans who weren't expelled after the war, but who were nonetheless subject to discrimination by the post-war Czechoslovak authorities.

Around two and a half million Germans were kicked out of Czechoslovakia after 1945, and their property confiscated. Several hundred thousand - including anti-Nazis, those married to Czechs and essential workers - were allowed to stay. But as MLADA FRONTA DNES reports, many of them were subject to discrimination, such as lower salaries. As a result, many ethnic Germans now receive lower pensions than Czechs. And that's something Mr Mares wants to put right, says the paper.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports on the story of the luxury flats in Prague's Nerudova street, located in the picturesque and now extremely swanky Mala Strana district. The building was bought and renovated for MPs who live outside Prague, allowing them to walk the five minutes to parliament. But what began as a trivial housing issue has ballooned into something of a cause celebre, with the media up in arms over how much the flats cost to renovate and how little the MPs will pay to rent them.

As LIDOVE NOVINY reports, so furious was the reaction in the media that seven of the 47 MPs picked to move in have now changed their minds. The seven MPs, says the paper, are from the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats. The seven vacant flats will now go to MPs from the Social Democrats and the Communists. So MPs from left-wing parties, writes LIDOVE NOVINY, will occupy more than two-thirds of the luxurious apartments.

And we cross Charles Bridge into the Old Town for our final story, a sobering tale in the Prague section of MLADA FRONTA DNES. The paper reports on a court case investigating a disturbing incident that occurred in the city centre last year.

The story concerns a man who was walking home through Prague's Old Town Square after buying some vegetables. The man noticed a red and white cordon preventing people from crossing the square, which had been booked for a pre-election meeting of Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democrats. The man, angry at not being able to walk home, asked a security guard why the square had been closed off to the public.

The response, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES, was an attack which left him in hospital with concussion and head injuries. The security guard originally told police he'd punched the man in the head because he'd defied orders not to enter the cordoned-off square. Now, he claims he merely pushed the man and he fell onto the cobblestones. So despite the security guard's earlier confession, says the paper, the matter is still being dragged through the courts.

18-06-2003