A guide to Prague paranoia
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A guide to Prague paranoia


To the casual visitor Prague seems a very civilized place. The city is bristling with church spires, historic buildings, museums and elegant squares. Every night is a cultural feast with opera, classical music and theatre of the highest quality. In this rarefied atmosphere, artistic and intellectual endeavours thrive and it is difficult to believe that the country was once under the dead-hand of communism.

But scratch the surface and a completely different picture emerges - a society lousy with jealousies, paranoia, xenophobia, nepotism, Machiavellian politics and dodgy deals. All in all a good place to be a tourist but not one to do business in. "When you fly in from London or New York for a few days all the intrigue is interesting," says a Prague-based investment banker who is attempting explain how the society works. "But I find it boring. Every attempt to create something is ruined by a political fix or infighting."

It would be easiest to put some of these negative aspects down to the communist legacy. People had good reason not to trust each other then, as they never knew when they might be talking to an informant.

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