On the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day President Milos Zeman awarded high state distinctions to 30 personalities from different walks of life. Among those awarded the Order of the White Lion, the country’s highest state distinction, were WWII veteran general Jaroslav Klemeš, Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Domink Duka and former EU commissioner Günter Verheugen. The Czech ambassador to Syria Eva Filipi, film director Juraj Jakubisko and singer Daniel Hůlka were among those who received a medal for merit.
The ceremony at Prague’s Castle’s historic Vladislav Hall was overshadowed by controversy. Many politicians, academics and cultural figures boycotted the ceremony in a show of solidarity with Holocaust survivor George Brady,who was reportedly crossed off the list of nominees after his nephew, Culture Minister Daniel Herman met with the Dalai Lama against the president’s wishes. The Office of the President has denied the allegations.
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