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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Havel decries Czech politics
Czech President Vaclav Havel
Mr Havel said ordinary Czechs were disgusted

Czech President Vaclav Havel has made a blistering attack on the republic's political parties just 10 days before crucial parliamentary elections.

Speaking in a BBC interview, Mr Havel said Czech politics were dominated by antipathy and furtiveness, and that ordinary people were disgusted.

Mr Havel, who retires from politics at the beginning of next year, also voiced concern that the choice of his successor would be determined by backroom post-election horse trading.

He said the campaign by a pornographic magazine was a symptom of the sorry state of Czech public life.

Increasingly outspoken

Mr Havel noted that the magazine Hustler has offered a large cash prize for anyone providing details of corrupt politicians, and that its switchboards are jammed.

As the end of his term of office draws nearer, President Havel is growing increasingly outspoken.

This BBC interview was no exception.

Czech public life was dominated by furtiveness, antipathy, and attempts by politicians to kick each other in the ankles, he said, adding that many ordinary people were sickened and disgusted by it all.

German President Johannes Rau
German President Johannes Rau's visit will be a chance to mend fences
Mr Havel was a dissident playwright, swept to power with high ideals after the fall of Communism in the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989.

Speaking before the elections that will determine the parliament that chooses his successor, he said he was afraid the presidency would now merely become part of a post-election horse trading.

He also pointed to a bad-tempered row with neighbouring Germany, saying that years spent carefully constructing foreign relations had been kicked to pieces by politicians who could not control their tongues.

On Wednesday, Mr Havel welcomes the German president Johannes Rau to Prague in an attempt to mend fences.

See also:

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