Zeman Has Plenty of Lawyers, Guns and Money for His Non-Campaign CampaignČTK
Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman today received a donation of two million crowns for the campaign for his re-election from Czech arms maker DAKO-CZ, which is part of the Czechoslovak Group of Jaroslav Strnad.
In total, Zeman has 2.5 million crowns on his transparent account, which every presidential candidates must have.
Zeman is the favourite of the Czech direct presidential election that will be held in January. He claims that he does not wage any campaign.
His critics point out that Zeman keeps touring the country, meeting people, appearing regularly on television and that billboards and leaflets promoted his re-election and books presenting his views were recently issued. However, Zeman argues that he organises none of these activities.
The Aktualne.cz news server writes that the DAKO-CZ company is owned by arms maker Strnad and Alexej Beljajev, a Slovak businessman of Russian origin.
DAKO-CZ previously sponsored the small Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO) that formed around Zeman and organised his successful election campaign five years ago. In 2014, DAKO-CZ sent one million crowns to the SPO.
In January 2015, President Zeman opened a new assembly and dispatching hall of DAKO-CZ.
Strnad also owns the Excalibur Army arms trader and a majority stake in the Tatra truck producer.
Zeman repeatedly promoted Czech arms makers and exports of their products. Strnad’s firms deliver arms to the Czech military.
Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said he does not deal with the donation when CTK asked him whether Zeman would accept the money in a situation where he does not want to wage a campaign.
Zeman repeatedly said he would not wage any election campaign. But Ovcacek said Zeman was aware of the billboards promoting his candidacy that would be displayed throughout the country. The costs of these billboards, which were covered by the Association of Friends of Milos Zeman, would be included in the official spendings on the campaign.
Sponsors sent the highest donations of 32 million crowns in total to Sciences Academy former head Jiri Drahos, who seems to be the most popular of Zeman’s rivals. Drahos has spent 20 million crowns on his campaigning so far.
Businessman Michal Horacek has spent 23 million crowns of his own money so far. At the moment, there are over three million crowns on his account.
Former right-wing prime minister Mirek Topolanek spent 2.7 million out of 7.6 million crowns he received from his sponsors. Businessman Richard Benysek, who is considered a close cooperator of Petr Kelner, the richest Czech owning the PPF Group.
Skoda Auto car maker’s former chief Vratislav Kulhanek received nearly six million crowns from entrepreneur Pavel Sehnal who recently formed the small Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), using the name of a right-wing party that played an important role in home politics in the 1990s. Kulhanek has spent most of the sum so far.
Former diplomat Pavel Fischer has spent 4.7 million crowns and half a million crowns is left in his account.
Activist Marek Hilser has about 430,000 crowns in his account, arms official Jiri Hynek 323,000 crowns and musician Petr Hannig 3,700 crowns.