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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

“The lawyer of Moscow” was elected President of the Czech Republic: why Zeman loves Russia

Counted the last vote of the second round of presidential elections in the Czech Republic. With a small margin defeated the incumbent President Milos Zeman. For Russia, this is good news: Zeman has always favoured the development of relations with Moscow. And in November last year, he brought to our country a delegation of more than a hundred Czech businessmen to establish economic ties. And though the Czech President does not possess such extensive powers as Prime Minister, thanks to the sharp tongue and the reputation of a “strong leader” Zeman is increasingly coming to the political forefront of the country.

photo: kremlin.ru

Milos Zeman, and Vladimir Putin.

The first round of the presidential elections, which began on 12 January, Milos Zeman was given relatively easy: it collected 38.6% of votes, while his main opponent, Jiri Dragos only 26.6. But the second round, held on January 26-27, Zeman won with a small margin: 51,4% against 48,6% of Dragos. The fact that all the other candidates chose to unite against the incumbent President and urged to vote for his opponent.

Zeman is a veteran of the Czech political arena. He has the job as speaker of the lower chamber of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the first ever Czech President elected by direct vote. Over the years in politics, he earned a reputation as an eccentric and politically incorrect leader. Zeman is known that recognized the annexation of Crimea to Russia “fait accompli” called the immigration crisis is “an organized invasion” to Europe, said that Muslim culture is “completely incompatible” with the European.

In contrast to relations with the European Union Zeman calls to establish relations with China and Russia. In November last year, he toured the country and brought with him a delegation of more than a hundred businessmen. “When I went to France I was accompanied by only 14 entrepreneurs, and now 140, from which we can conclude that Russia is ten times more important than France,” he said then, promising that the total signed agreements amount to 20 billion kroons (800 million euros). He repeatedly stressed that he was against how the EU sanctions against Moscow and the retaliatory ban on European food products in Russia. “You punish the innocent!”—he turned to Russian leaders in connection with retaliatory sanctions.

Senior research fellow in the Department of European studies, IMEMO ran Anna Chetverikova comments in the “MK” was told that such attention to Russia on the part of Zeman involved rather economic interests. “Czech businesses not satisfied that with the introduction of Russian retaliatory sanctions, they lost part of the Russian market, — noted Anna Chetverikova. And Zeman understands the significance of the vast Russian market for Czech goods. Therefore, most likely, his position towards Russia will not change. But we cannot say that within the EU the Czech Republic takes explicitly Pro-Russian stance. It is rather a position to defend their interests. And in the sphere of interests of the so-called “Visegrad group”, which is Czech Republic, as part of the expansion of their exports, because exports are the main stimulus for the development of their economy”.

Meanwhile, during the election campaign the health of 73-year-old Zeman has repeatedly raised questions. After all, he is known as a heavy smoker and drinker, and suffering from diabetes. Analysts suggest that the current presidential term, that will very likely end his political career.

Sanctions. Chronicle of events

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