08-12-2003

Czech Nightingale pop-music awards: Lucie Bila and Karel Gott, photo: CTKCzech Nightingale pop-music awards: Lucie Bila and Karel Gott, photo: CTK Parliamentary elections in Russia, the departure of Freedom Union deputy chairman Ratibor Majzlik from the party's weekend conference and the results of Saturday's Cesky slavik- the Czech Nightingale pop-music awards - those are some of the front page stories in today's Czech papers.

"Christmas trees are threatening people", shouts a headline in MLADA FRONTA DNES over a photo of fire fighters cutting a 30-metre Christmas tree that crashed to the ground during a gust of wind on Saturday in the centre of Prague. The paper says that the accident in which four people were injured prompted authorities in other towns and cities to carry out immediate security checks and if necessary, have the trees shortened and sunk deeper into the ground.

The daily writes that the incident revealed that the race among Czech towns to have the tallest tree in their main square poses severe risks. It was the Czech Republic's tallest Christmas tree, in Prague's historic Old Town Square, that broke in half and fell to the ground, causing severe injuries to a 54-year-old British tourist. The man suffered two fractures of the spine and both his legs were broken by the plunging conifer. He has undergone a six-hour operation in Prague's Motol hospital.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that communal politicians have formed a united front to oppose building nuclear waste deposits in the Czech Republic. The mayors of the six municipalities that had been set out by the government as potential sites for depositing nuclear waste met on Saturday in the town of Tabor in South Bohemia. They agreed that their common goal is to make the government give up all its current plans to build permanent nuclear waste deposits in the country.

The selected locations, writes LIDOVE NOVINY, are in South Bohemia, in the Vysocina region in the south-east of the country and in northwest Bohemia. The mayors also want to push through a change in the "nuclear law" that would stipulate that a nuclear waste deposit cannot be built without the consent of local citizens. LIDOVE NOVINY quotes the mayor of Nadejkov, a village near Tabor, as saying that if the authorities did not know where to store burnt-out nuclear fuel, they should not have built nuclear power plants in the first place.

PRAVO reports that every year 1,600 Czechs end their lives in suicide. According to PRAVO, the most frequent reason behind suicides is a loss of perspective, loss of meaning in life and incapability to cope with a difficult life situation. The most vulnerable age group are people between 45 and 49 years of age. The second group in which suicides are most frequent are people between 65 and 74, says PRAVO.

The figures were supplied to PRAVO by the Czech Statistics Office which also concluded that the worst month of the year is May and the worst day is Monday. The highest suicide rate is in Prague where it is mostly women who choose to end their life voluntarily. People with only basic education tend to commit suicide more often - in about 80 percent of cases, while people with university education make up for only 5.4 percent of the total number of suicides.

And finally, nine months after Vaclav Klaus was elected Czech President, MLADA FRONTA DNES publishes the results of an exclusive poll it commissioned with SC&C polling agency. Three hundred respondents answered the question whether they thought Mr Klaus was successful in his new role - and 73 percent said yes. Another question was whether they preferred the current first lady Livia Klausova or her predecessor Dagmar Havlova. While almost 60 percent responded they liked Mrs Klausova better, less than 14 percent said they were fonder of Mrs Havlova. Around 30 percent said they could not tell which one they liked more.

08-12-2003