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Czech presidential candidate Drahoš ends petition campaign

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Prague, Oct 13 (CTK) – Czech presidential candidate Jiri Drahos, former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, ended the petition campaign in support of his candidacy last week. He said that he gathered over 110,000 signatures from people, or far more than the required 50,000.

His election team stopped collecting the signatures on Sunday, October 15.

The direct presidential election will be held in January. Along with incumbent President Milos Zeman and businessman Michal Horacek, Drahos is one of the election’s favourites.

Drahos raised nearly 19 million crowns from firms and individuals for his campaign and he has spent over 10 million crowns so far, his election team said. His biggest sponsor is billionaire Dalibor Dedek: the founder of Jablotron firm, a Czech producer of security devices and mobile phones, gave him two million crowns.

An art auction organised by Prague’s Vltavin Gallery, to which 70 artists donated their works, is to raise further funds for the campaign.

Drahos told journalists that his campaign aims to be low-cost. Billboards will appear, if there is enough money for them, he said.

Drahos on Friday presented his new aides – economist Petr Teply, constitutional lawyer Jan Tryzna and Dana Drabova who heads the state office supervising the safety of nuclear plants. Historian Jiri Padevet, astronomer Jiri Grygar, archeologist Miroslav Barta were presented as his aides previously.

Drabova is also an aide to another candidate, Horacek.

Lenka Pastorcakova, from Drahos’s team, said about 2,000 volunteers were engaged in the campaign and the oldest of them was 102 years old. She said two signatures arrived from Australia.

Due to mistakes, about 10 to 15 percent of the signatures had to be deleted.

Drahos said he plans to intensify his campaign after the general election that will be held on October 19-20.

He said he will keep meeting people and touring the country. People wanted to talk to him mostly about migration, Russia, China and the activities of President Zeman, he added.

He said he plans to organise non-public meetings with experts on chapters of his election programme, such as security, migration, terrorism and the environment. The first debate of this kind will be held tomorrow and focus on education, and Masaryk University Rector Mikulas Bek will be among the participants.

Drahos said the Czech president should initiate a debate on the advantages and disadvantages of the country’s EU membership. People only keep hearing about the disadvantages, he said.

The Czech government should launch a serious discussion about euro adoption, he said.

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