October 2003   česky

In an effort to make driving safe in the Czech Republic, the police set up thousands of road checkpoints to see whether motorists had their licenses, first aid kits, spare tires and all the other accessories required by law. Operation Kryątof, as the weeklong action was dubbed, ended up netting millions in fines for Interior Minister Gross to crow about at his press conference. And then he got into a helicopter and flew across the country to attend the first of three funerals held for police officers killed when their cruiser was rammed by a Mercedes with a drunk businessman behind the wheel. Their deaths, along with a record 23 other people who died on Czech roads during the first weekend in October, didn't make it into the statistics even though Kryątof was scheduled to run up through Sunday. To the surprise of everyone, including rank and file officers, police president Kolář explained that Kryątof had officially ended on Friday. The extra police presence on Saturday and Sunday was simply a "Traffic Safety Action", which was Gross-speak for saying that the fatalities would wind up in the overall statistics instead. That way Kryątof would be considered a success and the minister could get on with launching another highly publicized operation, this one aimed at the hundreds of brothels dealing in white slavery and child prostitution. The name he chose for it was Fantine, like the prostitute in Les Misérables, which incidentally is being revived on the stage right now by Gross' sugar daddy, promoter Frantiąek Janeček. One of the original stars of the show, Lucie Bílá, threw a bash to launch her first album in years. Václav Klaus showed up, as would be expected after all the support she has given him before every election. He made another appearance, his first as president, before parliament and proceeded to criticize the government for running up a record deficit and not going far enough with reforms. He had often criticized Havel for doing the same as president, although Havel never felt the need to defend himself afterwards the way Klaus did. Klaus also made excuses for not returning to parliament to award the nation's two highest honors to Havel. He claimed that he was in another city at the time, he thought it was going to be on another date, etc. Also making excuses is David Rath, the president of the Czech Medical Chamber. The Chamber's own inspection commission discovered that he had falsified the information he used to obtain his medical license. Rath, like Gross, rose to the top of his profession through political agitation and making sure his name stayed in the headlines. His connections to an emergency care service run by former informants of the secret police didn't seem to be a problem for him. After all, his father worked for the same people. His response to the latest charges was typical: Sue everybody. The Chamber board released a statement saying that Rath was the victim of a smear campaign, then went on to declare that the journalist behind the story had taken a bribe to write it. And the reason for the bribe? Allegedly Rath told Premier ©pidla that he has no confidence in health minister Marie Součková. Few if anyone has confidence in Mrs. Součková, but Rath wants to make sure everyone knows that, forgery or no forgery, the issue is a government conspiracy out to get him. The charges and counter-charges couldn't have come at a better time. Czech Television began running new episodes of the series "Hospital on the Edge of Town." Viewers were anxious to know what these people with the soap opera lives have been up to since the show went off the air twenty years ago. The answer? Not much. Dr. Blaľej, who left his wife after knocking up a nurse, is in a sour mood, not least because of an old injury to his operating hand. The injury was caused when an ambulance driver, the boyfriend of the nurse, crashed into his car (there were no Kryątofs in those days). Now the driver is the mayor of the town and has no hard feelings. Not yet anyway. As for that doctor who showed up in the Mercedes from Germany, he wants to buy the hospital. Sure, he used to be a drunk but he kicked that habit, and all that medicine he's taking is proof of it. Producers admit that things are slow for the moment, but wait till you see what became of that one doctor who kept causing all the trouble. He works for the Ministry of Health now. Just let Rath try to take him on. The airing of the first episode captured three-quarters of the viewing public and Gross could finally say, with a straight face, that all was quiet on the streets outside.