News

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Centre-right coalition agreement to be signed on Monday

The Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens have agreed to sign their coalition agreement next Monday. During talks on Wednesday, the three parties also agreed on a flat tax that would cover both personal income and corporate income, as well as VAT. The tax rate will be between 15 and 19 percent; the exact rate is to be decided after the coalition agreement is signed. VAT would only vary in areas concerning foodstuffs, medicines, public transport, books, and services in the sport, cultural, and accommodation sectors.

EU and US leaders meet in Vienna

The leaders of the European Union and the United States of America met in Vienna on Wednesday, to discuss trans-national cooperation, issues of security, the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, Iran's nuclear policy, and US visa requirements for EU member states, including the Czech Republic. In a Vienna summit declaration the leaders recognised the need for tangible progress to be made towards the establishment of reciprocal visa-free travel for all EU citizens to the United States but no concrete promises of visa-free travel were made.

Health Minister Rath under police investigation

Police are investigating Health Minister David Rath on suspicion of corruption, the Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper writes. The daily says Mr Rath headed the Czech Chamber of Doctors when 13.7 million crowns disappeared from the chamber's budget. Minister Rath has rejected any claims of responsibility and says the allegations are part of a politically motivated attempt to discredit him.

Doctors' oppose health ministry directive extending office hours

Doctors have opposed a health ministry directive that extends their office hours to 35 hours a week. Up to date, doctors were only obligated to open their doors to patients for four hours a day. The head of the Czech Dentists' Chamber, Jiri Pekarek, said on Wednesday that doctors' representatives will approach President Vaclav Klaus this week to ask him to challenge the directive at the Constitutional Court. The health ministry says patients and hospitals would benefit if doctors extended their office hours. The deputy chairman of the Association of General Physicians, Jana Uhrova, on the other hand, believes patients would be at a disadvantage because doctors would not have time for home visits.

Gathering in Prague centre calls on Paroubek to leave politics

Some 300 people gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Tuesday afternoon to demand that outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek leave politics. The organisers said Mr Paroubek's speech after the June 2-3 general election, in which he challenged the ballots results and compared the victory of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats to the communist takeover in February 1948, was unacceptable. Mr Paroubek later apologised for his speech, but the organisers consider it scare-mongering. They say that nothing has changed since then and Mr Paroubek remains a threat to democracy in the Czech Republic. Similar demonstrations have been held on Prague's Wenceslas Square for the past two weeks.

Prague residents battling heat wave

Prague's emergency health services say the tropical heat wave, which has gripped the country, has had them attend to around ten cases more a day. On Tuesday alone, two people died as a result of the hot weather and 76 people had to be rushed to hospital. Ever more Prague residents are suffering circulatory collapses, respiratory problems, or serious heart problems, the health services say. Doctors have asked the elderly and children to stay indoors whenever possible and urge adults to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day.

Oldest Czech cave painting made in 3,200 years BC

The oldest cave painting in the Czech Republic was made in 3,200 BC and is located in Moravia. According to Ivan Balak from the authority that looks after the "Moravsky Kras" protected landscape area, the Neolithic 30x40 cm painting was drawn with coal, bears a geometrical shape that resembles a grill, and could be depicting a ritual.

Salzburg swoop for Slavia's Pitak

Slavia Prague captain Karel Pitak has moved to Austrians Salzburg in a three-year transfer worth 1.1 million dollars, the Czech first division club announced on Tuesday. The 26-year-old midfielder, who won 17 caps with the national under-21 side, scored 30 goals in 121 matches in the past five seasons with Prague, including 10 goals last season.

Weather

The current sunny and warm weather is expected to continue in the next few days, but heavy rain and occasional thunder storms have also been forecast for the beginning of the week. Daytime temperatures should reach up to 29 degrees Celsius.