22-01-2004

One person is featured on most covers of today's dailies and that is Czech actress Jirina Bohdalova, the popular star of countless movies, who won an important case in court on Wednesday against the Interior Ministry. Mrs Bohdalova filed charges after the ministry included her name on a list last year outlining collaborators with the former communist regime's secret police, the StB. However, MLADA FRONTA DNES indicates that in spite of her success the actress remains unhappy with the ruling. The reason? At the end of day her name will not be struck from the records in keeping with a current law that stipulates only a footnote can be added. That has left the actress far from satisfied and she now plans to appeal.

Mrs Bohdalova told journalists Wednesday's decision made her feel like a wrongly-accused "murderer" who had cleared her name only to find out she would never shake the label. Because of questionable reliability of the files, it becomes difficult - if not impossible - to separate collaborators from the innocent, and having one's name remain on the records suggests continuing guilt. Still, says one former constitutional court judge: "the files do serve a purpose" for the Interior Ministry. However, anyone proven innocent, in his view, should be fully vindicated. In his view such names should be struck from the list.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that after more than a year of stable rents Czechs can expect to see a rise as of September 1st. According to the daily, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Minister for Regional Development Pavel Nemec have reached agreement on regulated rents, expected to rise by about a third over the next three years. That means that those who are currently paying 2,500 crowns in rent per month would end up paying 3,030 by 2006.

Over one million Czech families currently live in homes paying state-controlled rent, in a system that has been ruled unconstitutional. If approved by Parliament the new proposal would remain in effect till the end of 2006, by which a new bill governing rents would have to have been approved, the daily says. Currently the rent system in the Czech Republic is divided between regulated rent and the open market, leading to wide discrepancies amongst the amount the population has to pay in rents. Especially in Prague.

Staying with LIDOVE NOVINY, the paper notes that yet another member of the Social Democrat government has staked their post on the passing of a new bill. Following the Health Minister's pledge at the weekend, Education Minister Petra Buzkova has also warned she will resign if the government fails to reach a consensus on a new education bill, and if it fails to find support in Parliament.

According to the daily at the moment there are clear indications the bill does not have the full support within the ruling coalition. The daily notes that Mrs Buzkova is preparing to meet with the head of government junior partners the Freedom Union, Petr Mares, who would like to see changes in the education bill that would bring it in line with EU legislation. Mrs Buzkova says those have already been met. She also suggests to LIDOVE NOVINY that if both she and Mr Mares fail to reach a consensus, he should put his head on the block too. In her words - if they aren't able to push through a proposal, they should make way for someone who can.

And finally, turning to a story on an EU inspection team PRAVO writes that a dairy factory in the town of Otinoves the region of Prostejov was turned into an impenetrable fortress Wednesday. The inspection team was on hand to assess whether local hygienic conditions met EU norms - and the daily writes no one else was allowed in - not even a mouse would have been able to do so. Every year the Otinoves dairy plant produces over a thousand tonnes of its famous Niva cheese, a kind of Rocquefort. The head of the dairy Vladimir Spurny tells the paper that although he has yet to receive results of the inspection, members of the EU team gracefully accepted a platter of the cheese after completing their work. The dairy head tells the paper, he is confident the inspection went well.

22-01-2004

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