Czech president, at Putin's side, jokes about liquidation of journalists

President Miloš Zeman raised eyebrows on Sunday with a comment just caught on mic ahead of a press conference in China with Russian President Vladimír Putin. Mr Zeman joked that there were too many journalists and that they should be liquidated - reaction to the apparent presence of 'still more' press at the event. His counterpart reacted with a smile and indicated that such measures were not required but that journalists could be "reduced". Mr Zeman's at times hostile view of journalists is well known.

On Sunday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek expressed a strong objection to Mr Zeman's joke, suggesting that such a discourse was inappropriate with Mr Putin or anyone else. The president's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, meanwhile, described Mr Zeman's remarks as a mere witticism or bon mot. The president's words have since drawn sharp criticism on the social networks and were slammed by numerous politicians including MEP Pavel Telička who tweeted that the joke was evidence that Mr Zeman's re-election bid did not deserve support.