Daily news summary

Skripal suspects believed to have followed him in Czechia long before attempted poisoning

The suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack on the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal reportedly visited the Czech Republic in 2014 at the time when Skripal himself was in the country, allegedly helping the Czech counter intelligence service uncover Russian spies. The flagship news channel of Czech Radio, Radiozurnal, broke the story on Wednesday, citing Czech intelligence sources.

The two men, who are believed to work for the Russian intelligence service GRU, arrived in the Czech Republic in mid-October 2014, using the same cover names as they did in Britain -Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – just days before Skripal’s scheduled visit to the country.

This suggests that Skripal was being followed by the two men long before the attempted poisoning. The Czech Intelligence Service has said it will not comment on the case.

Pirates, Praha Sobě meeting to agree on Prague mayor candidate

The Pirate Party and civic movement Praha Sobě are due to formally discuss on Wednesday who should be their candidate for Lord Mayor of the Czech capital.

Although the Civic Democrats won the elections, the centre-right party does not have enough mandates alone to push through own of their own – while, together, the Pirates and Praha Sobě do.

As a party, the Pirates got more votes in the municipal elections and so should get the position, argues Prague chapter head Zdeněk Hřib, who is gunning for the position.

But on an individual level, Praha sobě leader Jan Čižinský was the voters’ clear favourite, and while he isn’t insisting that he be the nominee, he is likewise keen on it.

ANO leader slams Civic Democrats for Brno "betrayal“

ANO leader Andrej Babiš has slammed the Civic Democratic Party for sidelining Brno election winner ANO and entering into a coalition with the Christian Democrats, the Pirates Party and the Social Democrats.

Babiš called it the "ultimate betrayal“, saying a coalition deal with ANO had already been settled.

Brno Civic Democrat leader Marketa Vanková, who is slated to be the city’s new mayor, said the deal including the Pirates Party had been made on the basis of broader policy program consensus.​

Survey: Only 15 percent of Czech employees do unpaid volunteer work

Only 15 percent of Czechs are involved in unpaid volunteer activities – the lowest percentage among 34 countries surveyed in the latest Workmonitor Global Survey by the staffing advisory company Randstad.

Alžběta Honsová, marketing manager at Randstad's local branch, said 51 percent of Czechs consider volunteer work to be important and 67 percent of them say they would volunteer if given paid leave from their jobs to do so.

Forty-one percent of Czechs surveyed said their employer actively supports at least one charity initiative, but only 7 percent were given paid leave to volunteer for a charity activity or organisation.

Government okays sharing of records among medical professionals

The government has approved a proposal to allow patients’ medical records to be shared among doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals treating or caring for them. Currently, healthcare professionals are not always aware of what medications their patients have been prescribed.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (an independent, on the Ano ticket) said it was an important step towards an e-health system, meaning the digitisation of healthcare records.

Czech Philharmonic begins season at Rudolfinum under new chief conductor

The Czech Philharmonic will open its 123rd season on Wednesday with a concert at the Prague Rudolfinum, under new chief conductor and music director of Semjon Byčkov. Under the direction of Lukáš Vasilka, the Prague Philharmonic Choir will also take part.

Among the highlights of the upcoming season are concerts by Simona Rattla, Franz Welser-Mösta, Giovanni Antonini and Christophe Eschenbach as well as the programmes of the main guest conductors Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil.

The Cure to play Colours of Ostrava festival

British new wave band The Cure is the first confirmed headliner set to perform at the next Colours of Ostrava music festival.

The band, formed by singer and guitarist Robert Smith, played their first show in 1978 and have since performed around 1,500 concerts and released 13 studio albums.

The 18th edition of Colours of Ostrava takes place from July 17 - 20, 2019. Organisers says in total 120 bands from around the world will perform across some 20 stages.

Weather outlook

The forecast for Thursday is for sunny skies throughout the country, with daytime highs of 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. The outlook is much the same throughout the weekend.