President Miloš Zeman says Czech or other European politicians who regard
him as an agent of Russia’s Vladimir Putin are “absolute idiots”.
Speaking in an interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, Mr Zeman
said he had also been accused of being an agent of China and Israel but was
in fact an agent of the Czech Republic.
The Czech head of state said that the European Union lacked a strong leader, by contrast with the US, Russia and China.
Mr. Zeman said he had nothing against a Russian company winning a tender to construct new units at the Czech Republic’s Dukovany nuclear power plant.
Czech President Miloš Zeman will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin
again at the end of next month, Seznam Zprávy reported. The two leaders
are expected to hold informal talks while both are in the Chinese capital
Beijing. Mr. Zeman will be in China between April 23 and 28 on what will be
his fifth visit to the country as Czech head of state.
The Czech president has cultivated warm relations with Moscow and Beijing since his election six years ago.
The Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, has warned against the spreading of
distrust in the state and populism in a speech at Brno’s Masaryk
University. Rector Mikuláš Bek said that Mr. Kiska was maintaining the
traditions of Masaryk and Štefánik in Czech and Slovak politics, adding
that he had not gone in for vulgar humour or cheap witticisms.
The Slovak head of state received Masaryk University’s Grand Gold Medal during a ceremony on Tuesday morning. On Monday the institution celebrated the centenary of its foundation.
A group of 30 writers, historians and Nobel laureates, including Czech-born
writer Milan Kundera, have signed a manifesto warning against the rise of
populism in Europe.
The manifesto, published in several newspapers, including The Guardian, says Europe is “coming apart before our eyes” and expresses concern in connection with Brexit and the upcoming European elections.
The authors warn that unless efforts are made to combat a rising tide of populism, the EU elections will be “the most calamitous that we have ever known” opening the way for “explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism”.
The 800-word manifesto was drafted by the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. Its signatories include novelists Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie, historian Simon Schama and the Nobel prize laureates Svetlana Alexievitch, Herta Müller, Orhan Pamuk and Elfriede Jelinek.
This time of year, everyone is naturally taking stock of 2018 – the highs and lows of the past year – and what may lie ahead. Meanwhile, in Brussels, the EU’s direct initiative to identify, debunk and counter Russia’s disinformation campaign has come out with a list entitled “What did not happen in 2018?”
Jakub Kalenský was among the first to join the skeleton staff of the East StratCom Task Force, the European Union’s first direct initiative to identify, debunk and counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns. For the first year or so of the Task Force’s existence, established in the summer of 2015, the Czech former journalist was also the only team member devoted solely to that monumental task.
Popular Czech singer songwriter Jaromír Nohavica has been awarded the
Pushkin Medal, a Russian state decoration, for strengthening Czech-Russian
The singer received the medal from Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Sunday, on the occasion of Russia’s National Unity Day, the news agency RIA Novosti reported.
The Medal of Pushkin has been awarded since 1999 to Russian citizens as well as foreign nationals for achievements in the arts and culture, education, humanities and literature.
Other Czech recipients of the award include former Czech president Václav Klaus and head of the Czech-Russian society Jiří Klapka.
The presidents of Slovakia and Poland have defended the EU sanctions
against Russia as justified.
Speaking at a press briefing following a Visegrad Group summit of heads of state, Slovak President Andrej Kiska said the EU could not remain indifferent to the 2014 annexation of Crimea which was a blatant violation of international law and said he welcomed the fact that EU members had acted in unity in enforcing sanctions. Polish President Andrzej Duda also said the sanctions were fully justified.
Czech President Zeman, who is one of the most vocal opponents of the sanctions and who has repeatedly called for them to be lifted, made no comment, saying sanctions had not been on the agenda of the meeting. Hungarian President Janos Ader likewise refrained from commenting on the issue.
Having served as US secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, Madeleine Albright ranks as one of the most accomplished of all Czech-Americans. I got to speak to the Prague-born politician recently when she was special guest at the Reality Czech evening in New York, organised by the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association and the Václav Havel Library Foundation to mark the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. Our conversation eventually turned to that landmark anniversary – but it began with Secretary Albright’s recently published book Fascism: