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ANO takes five seats in Prague city hall and mayor’s post

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.

Senate approves abolition of health care fees

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.

Anti-corruption groups file charges over alleged election fraud

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.

Compulsory maths could be part of school-leaving exam in 2019

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.

Hundreds of rescue workers take part in simulated terrorist attack

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.

Prague to ban hawking of guided tours beneath Old Town Hall clock

Prague is to ban people from offering guided tours of the city from the area beneath the astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. The prohibition is set to come into effect from November 5. The guided tour sellers will be allowed to ply their trade at other spots elsewhere on the historic Old Town Square, which attracts millions of tourists every year. The Prague authorities also want to introduce exams for would-be guides and to be allowed to re-examine those who currently hold licenses to give tours.

Chinese writer Yan Lianke receives Franz Kafka Prize

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.

Ouředník to receive state prize for literature

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.

Kvitová loses to Radwanska in first outing at WTA Finals

World number three Petra Kvitová lost her opening match at the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore on Tuesday. The Czech lost 2-6 3-6 to Agniszka Radwanska of Poland after making numerous unforced errors in the late night White Group encounter. Kvitová, who is current Wimbledon champion, has only beaten another top 10 player once in her last six attempts. The other players in the White Group in Singapore are Maria Sharapova of Russia and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.

Cold spell brings strong wind and first snow

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.