President Miloš Zeman has discussed who he will name in the coming days to key roles at Prague Castle. Speaking on commercial TV station Prima Family on Sunday, the new president revealed that Vratislav Mynář, the chairman of the Citizens’ Rights – Zemanites Party is to be chancellor. He made clear that Mynář would step down as party leader. Hana Burianova is set to stay on as Mr Zeman’s spokeswoman, while the head of the foreign affairs section at the Castle will be Hynek Kmoníček, the current Czech ambassador to Australia. Two top names from the previous presidency, Jiří Weigl, and Jindřich Forejt, are staying on – Mr Weigl in the short-term to provide advice and training.
In related news, the president and his family will move into the Lumbe villa presidential residence, which was also used by his predecessor, Václav Klaus. The villa overlooks the Stag Moat near Prague Castle, an area of greenery favored for walks by locals. Mr Zeman said he and his family opted for the move as he wanted to be closer to the outdoors, while his wife Ivana was set on getting a family dog. The First Puppy is reportedly a golden retriever that the family has already picked out.
Speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, President Miloš Zeman said he is planning to visit Czech troops currently serving in Afghanistan. Possible dates are being discussed. The president said he considered foreign operations one of two key roles served by the Czech military, the other being the integrated defense of the country. The president noted that the current government led by Petr Necas has still not filled the post of Defence Minister following the departure of Alexandr Vondra.
Milos Zeman said on Sunday he will not grant interviews summarizing his activities as president to two national newspapers Lidové noviny and Mladá fronta Dnes. No concrete reason was given. The president made clear he would not turn down others. Mr Zeman has clashed with the media before, as prime minister he took issue with Mf Dnes; the editors-in-chief at both papers expressed surprise at the president’s words; Dalibor Balšínek of Mf Dnes replied that in the national election and as a presidential candidate Mr Zeman had been more than willing to talk to the daily; he suggested that the president was trying to now discredit media that could complicate matters for him as head-of-state.
A study for one of the paintings in the Slav Epic by renowned Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha sold for four million crowns at the Dorotheum auction house in Prague on Saturday. The price is likely the highest a Mucha work has fetched in the Czech Republic, expert Jan Nízký told the Czech news agency. The sold work is a study for the Introduction of the Slavic Liturgy in Great Moravia. The starting price was 1.9 million crowns. The Slav Epic is administered by the National Gallery in Prague and is on display at Veletržní Palác.
Former international striker Milan Baroš, who recently returned to play for Ostrava in the Czech domestic league, broke an almost year-long drought on Saturday – scoring not once but three times to secure a 3:0 win against Hradec Králove. The win sees Baník move up to 10th spot in the league standings.
Roughly 850,000 TV viewers over the age of 15 tuned in on Friday to watch President Miloš Zeman’s inaugural speech – 60 percent of viewers in the 11 am time slot, public broadcaster Czech TV reported. The reported figures are preliminary. Mr Zeman’s speech attracted more viewers at home than his predecessor’s a day earlier. Václav Klaus, on Thursday, gave a final speech that was seen by 647,000 viewers. Miloš Zeman is the Czech Republic’s third president but is the first to have been elected directly and not by lawmakers in Parliament.
In related news, 30 MPs on Friday were absent from the inauguration on Friday; 10 senators who declined to attend, responded in advance in writing. The presidential pledge is taken before both houses of Parliament. The largest number of those who were absent were lawmakers from centre-right party TOP 09 (which nominated Karel Schwarzenberg for president in the recent election). Others absent included former Social Democrat David Rath (remanded in custody awaiting trial and former Civic Democrat Roman Pekárek – who began a five-year prison term last month.
The chairman of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský has suggested that the court should have taken into count broader factors regarding a recent senatorial complaint. A group of senators had sought the annulment of part of the controversial New Year’s amnesty but the motion was rejected on Tuesday. Eight out of 12 judges currently in the Constitutional Court were against; four – including Rychetský – had a differing view. According to Judge Rychetský, the amnesty should have been examined in connection with international agreements that bind the Czech Republic to prosecute crimes and limit the legalisation of criminal profits. Former president Václav Klaus’ New Year’s amnesty saw more than 6,000 prisoners released; the controversial article 2 of the amnesty halted – or threatens to halt – a number of major cases of suspected corruption and fraud.