PRAGUE, May 11. /TASS/. Czech President Milos Zeman believes he did the right thing when he honored the memory of Soviet soldiers during a Victory Day reception hosted by the Russian embassy.
"It would be a disgrace if I did not honor the memory [of Red Army soldiers] like that," he told TV Barrandov on Thursday. "150,000 of them died in the Czech Republic alone."
The question was asked in connection with criticism by certain Czech political groups and local media, who often claim that Zeman’s pro-Russian views damage the country’s national interests.
Zeman paid tribute to the Soviet soldiers who died during World War II at a reception in Russia’s embassy in Prague on Wednesday.
Apart from that, in his speech to Russian diplomats and the embassy’s guests Zeman called to lift anti-Russian sanctions.
"I hope that we will transform public remarks [by high-ranking Czech officials about losses caused by sanctions] into an official initiative of the Czech Republic within the European Union," the president noted.
Zeman reminded that he himself, the prime minister, the Senate speaker (the Czech upper house of parliament) and leaders of national businesses had repeatedly stood up against sanctions.
The Czech president welcomed the start of a Czech-Russian discussion club uniting historians and political analysts due in early June. Both Russian and Czech presidents backed the idea of that platform. Zeman was hopeful that the club’s work would help to have the documents related to the Warsaw Pact forces’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968 declassified.
Prior to the reception at the embassy, a ceremony took place at Prague’s Olsany cemetery to honor the Red Army soldiers who died fighting for the Czech capital’s liberation from Nazis. Speaker of the Czech lower house of parliament Radek Vondracek, politicians, public figures and state officials came to the graves where 437 Soviet soldiers are buried. Veterans, school and university students, compatriots, the staff of embassies of Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Armenia laid wreaths and flowers to the memorial.