Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Zeman decorates 35 personalities on national holiday

29 October 2015

Prague, Oct 28 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman bestowed state decorations on 35 personalities, some of them in memoriam, yesterday, on the occasion of the national holiday marking the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak state in 1918.
He presented the highest Czech state decoration, the Order of White Lion, to the late wartime fighter pilot Josef Frantisek, serving in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII.
The Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, in memoriam, was given to Frantisek Kriegel (1908-1979), who was the only one of the Prague Spring leaders who refused to sign the Moscow protocol in 1968 that was to legitimise the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The president gave the Medal of Heroism to Petr Vejvoda, a 16-year-old student who was killed by a mentally ill woman when defending a girl in a secondary school in Zdar nad Sazavou, south Moravia, last year. The medal was taken over by the boy's father who received standing ovations in memory of his son's courage.
In his speech at the beginning of the ceremony, Zeman said he awarded courageous and hard-working people.
"I support the concept of living history. The history that is not interpreted as a certain anonymous movement of abstract ideas only, but living history that is being lived," he added.
Zeman bestowed the Medal of Merit on 32 people, including footballer Pavel Nedved, current vice-president of the Juventus Turin team, shot-putter Helena Fibingerova and several former ministers.
The medals were given in memorioam to culture minister and Zeman's close friend Pavel Dostal and Eduard Janota, finance minister in the caretaker cabinet of Jan Fischer. Former transport minister Petr Moos and Miroslav Toman, agriculture minister under the communist regime, also received the medals.
In the field of culture and arts, Zeman decorated, for instance, singer Vaclav Neckar, poet Jiri Zacek, actress Libuse Safrankova, violinist Pavel Sporcl, musicians Frantisek Ringo Cech and Ladislav Staidl as well as actress Jitka Frantova Pelikanova, living in Italy.
Her nomination has stirred up protests due to her alleged collaboration with the communist secret police (StB).
Despite his aversion to journalists, Zeman awarded journalist Jan Petranek, film critic Antonin J. Liehm and Karel Weirich (1906-1981), journalist and CTK correspondent who saved the lives 200 Czechoslovak Jews in Italy during WWII.
The Medal of Merit went also to Ludvik Hess, founder of the baby hatches project, Marie Svatosova, founder of the hospice movement, plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahac, living in the United States, who has performed one of the first successful face transplants in the world, expert in constitutional law Vaclav Pavlicek and Plzen Bishop Frantisek Radkovsky
Zeman decided to decorate some businessmen, too, such as Madeta dairy company general director Milan Teply, Preciosa glass factory owner Ludvik Karl, Jablotron founder Dalibor Dedek and Juta textile firm owner Jiri Hlavaty.
Zeman has awarded state orders and medals for the third time in a row. In the past, he gave the White Lion Order to British Sir Nicholas Winton (1909-2015) who saved hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia before WWII, former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky, whose country provided asylum for refugees from the communist Czechoslovakia, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), in memoriam, and current Slovak PM Robert Fico.

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