News PM faces administrative proceedings for failing to request clean screening certificate from Babiš
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka faces administrative proceedings on suspicion of having committed a misdemeanour when he proposed Andrej Babiš for finance minister without requesting a clean screening certificate from him, the internet news site Novinky.cz reported on Thursday. A clean screening certificate would refute collaboration with the former communist secret police of which Mr. Babiš is suspected. The request for administrative proceedings against the prime minister was filed with the Prague 1 Cíty Hall by Mayor Oldřich Lomecký. The office also received the same proposal for President Miloš Zeman who appointed Babiš to the cabinet without a clean screening certificate. However no administrative proceedings can be launched against the head of state.
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Hundreds of people were evacuated on Thursday morning from their homes in the vicinity of a munitions depot in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia, which was destroyed by explosion and fire last week. Police pyrotechnics experts are continuing their investigation at the site and there is a risk of further blasts. Residents evacuated from their homes will be allowed to return in the evening.
The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the 27 members of the new European Commission, as presented by its President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, with 423 votes in favour, 209 against and 67 abstaining from the vote. The new Commission now needs to be formally appointed by governments or EU heads of state in order to be able to take up its duty on November 1 for a five-year term. The Czech Republic is represented by Věra Jourová, who has been approved for the post of European commissioner for justice, consumer rights and gender equality.
The Senate on Wednesday approved the abolition of direct payments in health care, introduced by the former centre-right government of Mirek Topolánek in 2008. Under the new bill, patients will no longer be required to pay 30 crowns for every visit to the doctor and a 30-crown fee for medical prescriptions in pharmacies. The only fee that will remain in effect is a 90-crown fee for emergency visits. The new bill should come into effect in January 2015.
The renowned Chinese writer Yan Lianke received the Franz Kafka Prize at a ceremony at the Old Town Hall in Prague on Wednesday. The 55-year old author has published several novels and more than ten volumes of short stories. He has received China’s two top literary awards but several of his novels were banned from publishing. His works have also been translated and honoured abroad. The Franz Kafka Prize was established in 2001 and is co-sponsored by the Franz Kafka Society and the city of Prague.
Czech linguist, writer and translator Patrik Ouředník will receive the State Award for Literature for 2014, granted by the Ministry of Culture. The Czech-born author, who has been living in France since 1984, will be given the prize for life-long contribution to literature. Literary theorist and translator Jiří Pechar will receive the state prize for his translations from French, Spanish and German. The awarding ceremony will take place in Prague on Thursday, October 23.
The ANO party, along with the Social Democrats and the three-way coalition of the Greens, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents have agreed on forming a coalition at Prague City Hall. ANO will take five seats in the eleven-member city council, as well as the post of the mayor. Adriana Krnáčová, former head of Czech Transparency and current deputy interior minister, will be elected to the post. The Social Democrats and the three-way coalition will have three seats each. ANO finished first in Prague in the recent local elections, followed by TOP 09, and the Three Party Coalition. Others with representatives elected are the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists, and the Czech Pirate Party.
Anti-corruption initiatives Transparency International and Oživení have filed charges in case of alleged vote buying and election fraud in the municipalities of Chomutov, Kadaň, Ústí nad Labem and Prague during the recent municipal and Senate elections. The groups have provided witness testimonies describing vote buying in the regions in question, Andrea Kohoutková of Oživení told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. The anti-corruption initiatives have previously warned that election fraud in some of the country’s most economically-depressed regions has become a common phenomenon.
Maths could become a compulsory subject in secondary school-leaving exams in the spring of 2019, a year earlier than expected, the Education Ministry told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Maths traditionally proves to be the most difficult subject in the unified school-leaving exam. Nearly a quarter of students failed the subject this year. Education Minister Marcel Chládek previously said that it was necessary to educate teachers in new methods of teaching maths, in order to make the subject more attractive.
Strong winds caused problems around the Czech Republic on Tuesday night, damaging roofs, breaking off tree branches and bringing down power lines. Dozens of incidents required the assistance of fire fighters. The sudden spell of cold weather has brought the first snow in the mountain regions. In Krušné hory in the north-west of the country, fresh snow fell overnight in areas higher than 600 metres above sea level. Snow was also reported in the Šumava mountain range in the south-west and in the Krkonoše mountains in the north-west.
Hundreds of rescue workers, firefighters, soldiers and police officers took part in an operation simulating a terrorist poison attack in the Prague metro in the early hours of Wednesday. The operation was to check out the response and readiness of the emergency forces to this kind of situation and to examine the coordination of various parts of the rescue system. The simulated attack started at 1A.M. on Wednesday, when the terrorists broke a bottle containing sarin on the platform of the Andel metro station, killing ten people and leaving dozens of others wounded. Zdeněk Schwarz, head of the Prague Ambulance Services, said he was happy with the course and results of the training.