26-01-2004

Lidove Noviny writes that some MPs for the ruling Social Democrats want the US authorities to abolish visas for Czech citizens in return for Czech participation in US-led military missions. The head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house, Social Democrat Vladimir Lastuvka, tells Lidove Noviny that the situation is unsustainable. According to him, either the US should abolish visas for Czechs, or the Czech Republic should introduce visas for Americans.

Mr Lastuvka tells the paper that the Foreign Minister and MPs should negotiate with their US counterparts and stress the fact that Czech citizens are not a security threat to the United States. Deputy Foreign Minister Petr Kolar, on the other hand, points out it is no use putting pressure on the US administration as the Czech Republic does not meet the legal conditions for visa-free travel. The number of rejected visas must not exceed three percent for several successive years. Lidove Noviny writes that the US embassy in Prague turns down between 10 and 20 percent of applicants.

Jiri KajinekJiri Kajinek Mlada Fronta Dnes gets back to what it calls the most talked about criminal case of the decade. The paper says that the case of Jiri Kajinek, who is serving a life sentence for two counts of murder, might be re-opened. Mr Kajinek's lawyer tells the paper he has evidence of errors in the proceedings and, most importantly, of police involvement in the murders.

The daily writes that Mr Kajinek's lawyer has filed a complaint with the Justice Minister. At the same time reporters from the commercial TV station Nova have discovered a new witness who was never questioned. Mlada Fronta Dnes says that TV Nova will disclose the name of two police officers allegedly involved in the murders, committed in 1993, in a special programme about the case tonight.

Prime Minister Vladimir SpidlaPrime Minister Vladimir Spidla Pravo reports that the Prime Minister and head of the ruling Social Democrats Vladimir Spidla has received two warnings from within his own party. Two factions within the party said on Saturday that Mr Spidla's position in the party and the government might be challenged if the Social Democrats suffer a defeat in the European Parliament elections in June.

One of the rebel factions is centred around Interior Minister Stanislav Gross and the other, a leftist platform, includes former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. The head of the Social Democrats in the lower house, Petr Ibl, tells Pravo that Mr Spidla is not paying attention to problems in his party. According to Mr Ibl, a looming rift in the party would cause the coalition government to collapse.

Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that hundreds of names of communist secret police agents are missing from the officially published files. A civic association called "Archivy" or "Archives" is trying to put things right and has already made the Interior Ministry add twenty-five previously deleted names. The paper refers to a report broadcast on Czech Television on Sunday disclosing that the head of the Czech branch of Hewlett Packard is a former secret police agent whose name had been erased from the files in November 1989.

26-01-2004

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