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Most rectors not to attend Zeman’s inauguration

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Prague, March 6 (CTK) – Most university rectors will not attend President Milos Zeman’s inauguration on Thursday, some of them in protest against Brno’s Masaryk University Rector Mikulas Bek not having been invited, others due to their foreign trips or illness, they told CTK on Tuesday.

With the exception of Bek, all of them received an invitation from the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Radek Vondracek, but most of them will still come.

The relations between rectors and Zeman have been tense for years. The rectors previously criticised Zeman for having refused to sign the appointment of three university teachers nominated for professors. Two of the teachers, National Gallery head Jiri Fajt and physicist Ivan Ostadal, took the matter to court.

They also disliked it that Zeman did not invite two rectors to a traditional ceremonial event with bestowing state decorations over his personal disputes with them on October 28. Due to this, the rectors stopped participating in this event organised by the Presidential Office in 2014.

The two were Bek and South Bohemian University former rector Libor Grubhoffer.

Bek said he had got used to the refusal.

He added that this was a sign of extreme disrespect for the institution he represented.

“However, I was unpleasantly surprised at Vondracek bowing to Zeman’s whims. Actually it is Vondracek who invites to the joint session of both houses of parliament,” Bek said.

“I did not know that along with my dispute with Zeman, I am also locked in a feud with the Czech parliament,” Bek said.

Out of the Brno rectors, the participation is being considered by newly elected rector of the Mendel University, Danuse Nerudova.

Brno University of Technology rector Petr Stepanek will not come as he will be on a holiday abroad.

Rector of Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno Petr Oslzly has also excused himself from the inauguration. In the presidential election earlier this year, Oslzly openly backed Zeman’s unsuccessful contender Jiri Drahos.

“I will not go there because I have learnt that Bek did not receive the invitation,” the rector of the Czech University of Life Sciences, Petr Sklenicka, said.

Sklenicka was a member of Drahos’s expert team.

Tomas Machula, rector of the South Bohemia University, has reacted in a similar way.

Most of the other rectors have also excused themselves from the ceremony, citing their busy programme or holidays as the reasons for their absence.

Zeman will be sworn in for his second five-year tenure on March 8. Some 700 guests, including lawmakers, regional governors, mayors and other representatives of the cultural and social life were invited to the ceremony.

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