24-10-2003

Quite a variety of stories on today's front pages - PRAVO and the economic daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY lead with the removal of Jaroslav Mil from the post of chairman of the board of directors of the state-run power utility CEZ. PRAVO writes that Mr Mil remains general director of CEZ but it is not certain for how long. The state disliked, among other things, CEZ's participation in the privatisation of coal producers Sokolovska uhelna and Severoceske doly.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY notes that the state has strengthened its own vision of CEZ as an obedient company which will continue to contribute billions to the state budget. The paper writes that there had also been other disputes between the state and Mr Mil. Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban disliked the fact that Jaroslav Mil had cut back investments in power distribution companies and spent large amounts on advertising.

Karel Srba, Photo: CTKKarel Srba, Photo: CTK The leading story in LIDOVE NOVINY features Karel Srba, a former high-up civil servant under ex-Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who was sent to prison for eight years in June for plotting to murder a top investigative journalist. Mr Srba appealed against the verdict, and the appeal is to begin at the Prague High Court next week. For the first time in Czech history, the paper writes, people will be able to watch court proceedings live on television next Thursday and Friday.

The head of the news department at Czech Television Zdenek Samal tells LIDOVE NOVINY that the matter is in the general public interest and that the functioning of the judiciary is a topical issue in this country. "It was our idea to broadcast the proceedings, we wanted to bring this unusual case to our audience," LIDOVE NOVINY quotes Czech Television's Zdenek Samal.

On to MLADA FRONTA DNES, and the paper carries a story on the controversial topic of euthanasia. Although euthanasia is illegal in the Czech Republic, the paper says that some Czech doctors and nurses admit they now and then help a terminally ill person to die more quickly. They either give them higher doses of morphine or they discontinue intensive treatment.

The daily quotes a nurse from North Moravia, who wished to remain anonymous, as saying that at the pulmonary unit where she used to work, it was not uncommon that they would bring relief to the terminal patients with higher doses of morphine. She says that their suffering was shortened by hours or days but certainly not weeks. According to some experts, MLADA FRONTA DNES writes, this cannot really be called euthanasia. The article was inspired by the debates caused by two recent cases of euthanasia in France and in the United States.

Staying with MLADA FRONTA DNES, and another headline says "Czech Television calls politicians termites." In a programme broadcast on Monday, Czech Television reporters likened Czech deputies to termites - aggressive insects that don't work and only spend their time building their own fortresses, pointing to the fact that MPs are taking up more and more buildings in Prague's historic Mala Strana and suggesting that just like termites they only work with their mouths.

The report caused uproar among Czech politicians and they have now declared war on Czech Television. For a start, they are threatening to refuse to pass a law increasing Czech Television's licence fee and also incomes from advertising. Czech Television even seems to have lost the support of Culture Minister Pavel Dostal, once thought to be the station's strong champion. MLADA FRONTA also reprints a photo of a termite from Monday's report on Czech Television.

24-10-2003