01-10-2003

There are a variety of lead stories in Wednesday's Czech newspapers, with LIDOVE NOVINY carrying perhaps the most interesting: while the Civic Democrats may expel MP Petr Kott for being too drunk to take part in important votes, Mr Kott now says he would like to join the deputies' group of another right-wing party, the Freedom Union. Such a move would have great significance for the governing coalition, which currently has a majority of only one in the Chamber of Deputies.

Civic Democrat MP Tomas Teplik tells MLADA FRONTA DNES that while crucial votes were taking place on Friday, Mr Kott was so drunk he could neither walk nor speak. As for Mr Kott himself, he still denies drunkenness was the reason he missed the votes, but he does tell LIDOVE NOVINY that he will never drink in parliament again.

President Vaclav Klaus raised a few eyebrows in diplomatic circles on Tuesday when he attended a reception at the Chinese Embassy in Prague; no Czech president had attended an event there for 27 long years, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

Among the other guests were several high ranking members of the Czech Communist Party, who are regulars at the Chinese Embassy. The daily points out that Mr Klaus was merely following the practice of world powers such as the United States, which have fostered co-operation with China in recent years.

As the police launch a campaign to increase road safety in the wake of the record number of deaths on Czech roads, PRAVO asks whether Czechs are more aggressive than drivers in other countries. The answer, according to psychologists, is "no", they drive dangerously simply because they aren't sufficiently punished for it.

Furthermore, Czech society is overly tolerant of dangerous or even drunken driving, says the daily. Says psychologist Vlasta Rehnova, Czechs only get worked up over dangerous driving when children are killed on the roads. When a child is involved it is no longer an "accident" but "murder" in the eyes of Czechs, she tells PRAVO.

While graduates do find it easiest to get a job, it's a long time since having a degree was a guarantee of employment, and the number of fresh graduates who can't find work is on the increase, says LIDOVE NOVINY in a front page article. In April 1996 there were - incredibly - only 500 unemployed university graduates in the whole country; this April the figure was seven times higher, reports the paper.

And finally, MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a project in which young Germans criminals serve their punishments in the Czech Republic. A group of six German youths are currently doing community service in the north Bohemian town of Teplice, for crimes ranging from robbing cars to racially motivated violence.

As part of their stay in the Czech Republic, the six are to visit the site of the town of Lidice, which was razed by the Nazis in 1942. One of the young delinquents had been on a similar programme last year, and said he had had a swastika tattoo removed after visiting the Terezin concentration camp in central Bohemia.

01-10-2003