Monday, 26 February 2018

Friend of Miloš Zeman attack his rival in newspapers

ČTK |
19 January 2018

Prague, Jan 18 (CTK) - The Friends of Milos Zeman association has published an advertisement in some newspapers that express support for the re-election of incumbent Czech President Zeman and attack his rival candidate, academic Jiri Drahos, by saying he welcomes migration.

Zeman and former Academy of Sciences chairman Drahos will fight for presidency in the runoff to be held on January 26-27.

The ads were ordered by the Euro-Agency that had paid 1.8 million crowns for advertisement in daily papers before the first round of the presidential election, according to Zeman's transparent account.

A controversial ad in support of Zeman appeared in the press also before the second round of the direct presidential election five years ago, attacking Zeman's rival, former foreign minister and then TOP 09 head Karel Schwarzenberg. They mainly focused on the sensitive issue of the postwar transfer of Sudeten Germans, saying Schwarzenberg considers it unjust and "is preparing conditions for returning land to war criminals."

The current advertisement, published in Denik and Pravo dailies, reads "Stop Immigrants and Drahos. This Country Belongs to Us!" It calls on people to vote for Zeman.

Denik published also Drahos's reaction to it on its front page: "I have expected exactly this type of lies and disinformation. This is just a slander. I only agree with the part saying 'Stop Immigrants.' None of us wants waves of immigrants here."

Besides, Denik director Roman Gallo criticises the ad and calls it "a foul play of the (Prague) Castle" (the seat of the Presidential Office) in his commentary. He adds that Zeman knows Drahos's negative stance on the EU refugee quotas.

A lot of intentional fake news on both candidates is being spread mainly on social networks.

Speculations about Zeman focus mainly on his allegedly poor health condition.

As far as Drahos is concerned, people write he is abusing underage boys, stealing inventions from his colleagues and that he was an agent of the former communist secret police (StB).

A recently established website is refuting untrue information on Drahos, while Zeman's most frequent advocate is his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek.

Drahos's stance on illegal migration and the quotas for the redistribution of migrants across the EU countries is a frequent topic on social networks. Drahos's opponents accuse him of "welcoming" migrants.

Yet Drahos said before the first election round held on January 12-13 that in his opinion, the solution to the economic migration from Africa was aiding directly in the countries of the migrants' origin. He also called for checks along the outer EU border.

Zeman has repeatedly said he will not lead any election campaign. However, a high number of billboards and posters in his support appeared all over the country before the first round, along with newspaper ads. Ovcacek said Zeman had known about the use of this campaign.

Zeman has 4.5 million crowns in his transparent account, which he received before the first round already. He declared the costs of billboards and other advertisement as nonmonetary gifts of almost 17 million crowns, mainly from the organisations close to his aides.

They include the Friends of Milos Zeman association and the extra-parliamentary Party of Citizens' Rights (SPO), originally called the SPOZ bearing his name, which Zeman founded and was heading for some time. He is still its honorary chairman. The party organised the collecting of citizens' signatures for his presidential bid and Zeman gives press conferences in its seat.

SPO chairman Jan Veleba told the DVTV television on Wednesday that he had not signed the presidential campaign costs on behalf of the party and that its deputy deputy head was in charge of the funding. He also said he had no idea whether the SPO deputy chairman had used the party's money for Zeman's campaign.

The SPO does not plan an organised campaign in Zeman's support in the form of billboards and leaflets before the runoff vote, Veleba told CTK.

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