Miloš Zeman: Eurosceptic President with Pro-Russia Leanings and Controversial Decisions

Miloš Zeman is a Czech politician. He acted as the third president of the Czech Republic from 2013 to 2023. He also previously acted as the PM of the Czech Republic from 1998 to 2002. Zeman has been a subject of widespread objection and a source of controversy. He was widely considered as having pursued favourable approaches towards Russia while frequently fighting with traditional allies in the European Union and NATO.

Miloš Zeman, the Czech president, has a habit of going against mainstream thinking. Despite most Czechs holding unfavourable views of Moscow and Beijing, Zeman has arguably done more than any politician to foster friendships with both countries’ regimes. Zeman supports holding a referendum on Czech EU membership equivalent to the Brexit referendum held in the UK in 2016.  He also has been marked a Eurosceptic and opposes the EU’s migrant quotas. Some of his critics have charged him of having pro-Russia leanings, favouring it over the EU.

When Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Zeman urged against blaming Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. He dubbed it “a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens”, and then observed Russian Victory Day celebrations in Moscow the following year. He explained his visit to Moscow as an “expression of thankfulness that we in this nation don’t have to speak German if we would have evolved submissive collaborators of Aryan origin”, and that “we don’t have to express Heil Hitler, Heil Himmler, Heil Göring, and ultimately Heil Heydrich, that would have been extremely interesting”.

Most other EU leaders expressed that they would not follow the events due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. U.S. ambassador Andrew H. Schapiro condemned the decision, saying that it would “be uncomfortable” if Zeman was the only politician from the EU at the event. Zeman reacted by banning him from the Prague Castle. In 2010, Šlouf and Martin Nejedlý, a delegate of the Russian oil company LUKoil in the Czech Republic, were the major donors to his Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci.

Most controversially, he seemed to defend Russia against his own country’s intelligence agencies. The Czech government declared there was “unequivocal evidence” that Russian military mechanisms were behind the explosion of a huge shell depot in the eastern Czech Republic town of Vrbětice in 2014 that left two people dead. Zeman sparked anger– including from cabinet ministers — when he expressed the “hysteria” and “speculation” about Russia’s involvement.

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