Zeman’s Campaign Finances Don’t Add Up

Prague, Jan 26 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman has failed to dismiss persisting doubts about the financing of the campaign for his re-election, the iDnes and Respekt servers write today, adding that some of the sponsors showed a loss, and that the donors include lawyers assisting in a controversial purchase of a villa in Prague by Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar.


Zeman presented a list of sponsors of the Friends of Milos Zeman association, which partly covered the election campaign for him, in a debate with his challenger, academic Jiri Drahos, on public Czech Television (CT) last night.


According to iDnes, Zeman highlighted the origin of the sum of 9.2 million crowns. However, Friends of Milos Zeman and the Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO), close to Zeman, spent 12.8 million crowns on the campaign in his support.


“The origin of 3.6 million is unclear,” iDnes writes.


Mynar told CTK that the Friends of Milos Zeman group has sponsors to cover all the costs of the campaign it organised for Zeman. He said Zeman presented all the sponsors who already sent the money to the group’s account in the CT debate.


“We have secured the rest of the money, too,” Mynar said.


The Office for the supervision of political parties’ financial management has not received any list of sponsors from Friends of Milos Zeman, Jan Outly, from the office board, told CTK this morning.


Zeman said in a televised debate on Thursday that the list of sponsors has been submitted to the office, though it is not a condition set by law.


Zeman previously announced he would not lead any campaign. Nevertheless, pro-Zeman billboards, advertisements and leaflets gradually flooded the country before the election, partly financed by Friends of Milos Zeman.


Zeman faces former Science Academy head Jiri Drahos in the presidential election’s two-day runoff vote starting today.


The servers write that several firms among Zeman’s sponsors have made a loss, according to available information.


One of the firms is Contradiction, which donated 885,000 crowns for the campaign, although its debt reached 400 million crowns last year.


The situation of another sponsor, the Car Service Group, was similar. It sent 950,000 crowns to Friends of Milos Zeman, though its turnover was around four million crowns in 2016 and it made a loss.


“The same applies to the KOMERC Servis CZ firm,” writes Respekt.


Mynar did not want to comment on particular sponsors. “I am glad for any sum we received from somebody. I don’t know whether we tried to check the financial condition of the sponsors,” he told CTK.


An unusually generous gift of 300,000 crowns was sent to the pro-Zeman campaign by small tradesman Miloslav Havlicek, who operates a pub and a variety store in a small village, Respekt writes.


Furthermore, the servers write about the 1.7-million-crown gift provided by Brno-seated defence lawyers Richard Tomanek and Jiri Jestrab.


Some time ago, Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar said the two lawyers’ office had mediated his negotiations on the purchase of what media called a suspiciously underpriced villa in Prague.


Another company sponsoring the campaign is Ray Service, which provided half a million crowns. The company produces cable ties but also focuses on international arms trade. Its representative accompanied Zeman on one of his visits to China.


Also linked to China may be the one-million-crown gift from Jiri Berger, an executive of the EHQ company.


“The other executive is Roman Vik, general director of the Travel Service air carrier co-owned by the Chinese CEFC group,” iDnes writes.