10-07-2003

There are a number of different curious stories covered by today's press, one of the most interesting the re-emergence of a legal battle involving the Church vs. the State to determine ownership rights of Saint Vitus' Cathedral. The cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in 1344, but was only fully completed in the early 20th century, is the most dominant feature in the Prague skyline rising above famous Prague Castle, recognisable to anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes in the Czech capital.

Concerning the legal case LIDOVE NOVINY recalls that the original dispute was won by the Church in 1994, but the ruling was soon overturned by an appeals court. Now it appears that the case will resume in the fall. The paper writes that Culture Minister Pavel Dostal is confidant the state will prevail, stressing the cathedral is above all a symbol of the Czech Republic's statehood.

That is a view shared by historian and writer Zdenek Mahler, whose opinions are compared and contrasted with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk's on the pages of LIDOVE NOVINY. The Czech cardinal contends that St Vitus' symbolises the heart of the Catholic Church in Bohemia. But, he has indicated in the past that even if the Church were to gain the rights to the cathedral, it would ultimately donate the site to the state. The reason? The cardinal feels that the symbolic value of such a 'donation' would not be lost on the public.

In other serious and indeed welcome news, MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that the government has decided to take significant steps to ensure that all towns in the Czech Republic will provide barrier-less access to public bureaus within the next ten years.

Not only offices, but also routes from train stations, as well as to and from senior homes will also be reconstructed under the programme, if the towns apply. But, the paper writes, some ordinary citizens like Vaclav Kozel, do not believe the money for the government's 'Mobility' project will be found. Mr Kozel, who is confined to a wheelchair, has never even visited Prague Castle. He tells the paper: 'There are simply so many steps I never gave it serious thought'.

Staying with MLADA FRONTA DNES on a lighter topic now: the daily writes that Czech parents have once again begun naming their children along non-traditional lines: everything from Abigail to Esmeralda to Winnetou, the last after the famous Native American hero from Karel May's Westerns, long a popular film series here. Combined with last names like Novak and Chlupaty, though, the names come across as even more comic.

MLADA FRONTA DNES notes the role TV has played in the popularity of the new names - 114 Pamelas born in the 90s will almost certainly been inspired by beach-blonde Pamela Anderson; 60 Nikitas from the series about a secret service agent, and six Esmeraldas will have been based on a popular South American soap opera. You have to wonder how the other kids, with typical names like Ondra, Lada, and Lucie will react to their class-mates new names.

A soap opera that is a little bit how readers of MLADA FRONTA DNES may perceive the career of Diana Kobzanova, last year's Miss Czech Republic who caused something of a scandal by recently posing for a Czech pornographic magazine. In an interview for the daily's TV supplement Ms Kobzanova explains the reasons behind her decision - a rumoured 5 million crowns - and makes no bones when asked about whether her one-year-long boyfriend had any qualms.

That's right, according to Miss Kobzanova, you can never know how long a relationship might last, but money is a certainty and that in the end her boyfriend told her to take the job. She explains that at the end of the day she is a realist, saying 'Why should I behave like Mother Theresa, just so other people can say 'Kobazonova' - she's got character? After all, none of those people have ever helped me in my life and never will.'

Finally, for this edition, we go to today's PRAVO, and strange mystery rings that appeared recently in a village field in southern Moravia. Yes, we've seen them before, but that doesn't prevent experts like Pavel Kobza, photographed in the daily, from visiting the scene...

UFOs? Of course there are some believers - after all no one saw anyone flattening wheat stalks to create the 10, 14, and 15 metre circles - which appeared during the day. PRAVO quotes a local chronicler as 'romantically' saying that in the 10th and 11th centuries a castle stood in those parts. But, she herself believes the rings have a more down-to-earth cause: naturally-occurring static electricity.

10-07-2003