News

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Civic Democrats offer half cabinet seats to smaller parties

The Civic Democrats have offered to give half the seats in a possible new government to coalition partners the Christian Democrats and the Greens. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said at the weekend that he would present the president with a list of cabinet members by Thursday; he also said the proposed three-party coalition should undergo a confidence vote by the middle of next month.

A previous attempt by Mr Topolanek to form a government with the Christian Democrats and the Greens failed as the alliance was one vote short of a majority. The Civic Democrats, who came first in elections in June, say this time they hope to win the support of deputies from other parties.

The leftist Social Democrats have called on two rebel MPs to return to the party's deputies group. One of them, Milos Melcak, is currently under police protection, two of Monday's dailies reported. Mr Melcak reportedly believes somebody is trying to poison him.

European Commission investigate Czech consuls over visas

The European Commission has investigated Czech consuls in cities such as Moscow, St Petersburg and Kiev over the high number of visas they issue. The Commission also looked into the situation at Czech airports, the Euro weekly reported. Consul officials told the weekly that EC inspectors had found the situation satisfactory. Euro said the checks were linked to the Czech Republic joining the Schengen border free zone in just over a year's time.

Record number of fake CDs, DVDs impounded in 2006

The Czech Business Inspectorate this year seized a record 800,000 counterfeit CDs and DVDs, TV Nova reported. The fake goods, mostly sold at outdoor markets near the country's borders, were worth almost 500 million CZK (23.7 million USD).

Charles Bridge museum to be opened in Prague

A museum of the history of one of Prague's most important monuments, Charles Bridge, is to be opened in the Czech capital next June. The museum, to be located by the bridge, will show documents on the history of the stone Gothic bridge, its construction during the reign of Emperor Charles IV., as well as the Baroque statues later installed on the bridge. The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by Emperor Charles on July 9, 1357. The bridge was named after Charles in the 19th century. Until then it was called simply Prazsky and later Kamenny most or Prague and Stone Bridge.

Health officials investigate after unusual number of listeria cases

Public health officials have begun a nationwide investigation after repeated discoveries of the bacteria listeria. Inspectors said they would be looking into the storage and sale of soft cheeses and some meat products. Traces of listeria were found in three adults and a baby who died last month. Seventeen people were also reported ill with the bacteria, which officials said was a high number for the time of year.

Czech school inspectorate releases annual report

An annual report by the Czech school inspectorate suggests that the Czech Republic will face a lack of kindergartens in a few years time while the number of high schools will exceed demand in the future. That will be the case in areas where the authorities have failed to react to a changing birth rate. The office also says it is worried by the number of injuries at primary schools. The inspectorate also examined the readiness of primary schools for an education reform scheduled to kick off in two years time.

Nineteen-year-old Zbynek Drda becomes 3rd Czech Pop Idol

Nineteen-year-old high-school student Zbynek Drda from the town of Karlovy Vary has become the winner of the third series of the Czech version of the talent show Pop Idol. He received 57 percent of the votes sent by viewers on Sunday, beating the second finalist, twenty-year-old David Spilka, from Olomouc. Zbynek Drda's first solo album is expected to come out in March.

Film version of Hrabal's "I Served the King of England" premieres in Prague

A long expected film version of Bohumil Hrabal's novel "I Served the King of England", directed by Jiri Menzel, will premiere on Monday night in Prague. Menzel, who won an Oscar for his dramatisation of the Hrabal novel 'Closely Observed Trains' in 1967, was selected to direct the film last year following a legal confusion about the rights to the project lasting for ten years.

Weather

We can expect partly cloudy skies in the next couple of days, with a chance of rain and daytime temperatures between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius.