Thursday, 24 April 2014

LN: President Zeman following Yeltsin in alcohol

13 May 2013

Prague, May 11 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman is following in the footsteps of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, when it comes to his penchant for alcohol, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Saturday.

Like in the case of Yeltsin, legions of carers for Zeman, who has never kept secret his warm relationship with alcohol, will probably have to do their best to reduce his escapades to the minimum, LN writes.

The paper brings three photos of the Thursday ceremony at which seven top Czech dignitaries, including Zeman, opened the exhibition of Bohemian regalia at Prague Castle.

Zeman looked rather absent-minded and uncertain at the ceremony, which prompted the wild speculations, mainly online, that Zeman was drunk there.

The Presidential Office said on Friday that Zeman was suffering from virosis.

Zeman's two first months in office have been revealing, LN writes.

The Presidential Office has bought an instrument to detect poison in bottles, the Presidential Office excuses the falls of the head of state and Zeman himself entertains social networks with his public appearances, it adds.

At the video recording leaked from Zeman's visit to the public broadcaster Czech Television briefly after his March presidential inauguration, Zeman stumbled over a cable, struggled with an earphone and eventually almost fell on the stairs, being only rescued by an armchair from a fall, LN writes.

Zeman's followers rushed to explain that a surgery of his sore toe was to blame. However, the followers of social networks doubt the version, it adds.

One can hear other voices speaking about a different cause, LN writes.

"He had a stable alcohol level. He was then somewhat losing self-control," the daily quotes film director Tomas Kudrna who was shooting the background of the first direct presidential election, including the environment of Zeman's headquarters, as saying.

An alcoholic aura has accompanied Zeman since the start of his political career, LN writes.

"I do not know how it is now, but in the People's House (Social Democrat headquarters), he used to drink a lot," former prime minister and Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Jiri Paroubek is quoted as saying.

"The general public knew this, perhaps this is why he became the president," Paroubek said about the leftist candidate Zeman who won the direct presidential election with a clear margin ahead of his opponent, conservative Karel Schwarzenberg, with almost 56 percent of the vote.

"One can expect a weak moment due to this," Paroubek said.

"The daily drinking of large doses of hard liquor changed his personality beyond recognisance," Daniel Kroupa, leader of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA, a minor member of coalition governments in the 1990s), told the paper.

Kroupa made friends with Zeman in the late 1990s, LN writes.

Zeman himself likes to say publicly that his penchant for drinking does not limit his capabilities at all, it adds.

"As I can drink, I have never been drunk in my life-time," Zeman often says, the paper writes.

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