Moscow, Nov 22 (CTK special correspondent) – Czech President Milos Zeman awarded four Russian personalities at a reception he and his wife Ivana held at the Czech embassy in Moscow on Wednesday as a way to thank Russian war veterans who took part in the liberation of Czechoslovakia from the Nazi occupation.

Zeman handed medals for heroism to Mariya Rokhlina, Vladimir Dymkov and Boris Zvyagintsev, all WW2 veterans aged over 90.

He also handed medals of merit to Russian expert in Czech studies Valeriya Vasilyeva and Russian human rights advocate Svetlana Gannushkina.

Gannushkina, head of the Citizens’ Assistance NGO and a member of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, was absent from the ceremony because she is abroad now. She mainly focuses on the rights of immigrants and refugees in Russia. In 2006, the Czech organisation People in Need awarded her for her effort in human rights.

Zeman thanked the Russian war veterans for their fight not only for their homeland but also for a civilised Europe.

Apart from the 1945 liberation of Czechoslovakia, there is negative experience in the history of Czech-Russian relations, especially the 1968 occupation of the country by Soviet troops, Zeman said.

He repeatedly condemned an article that appeared on a Russian military website this week which praised the 1968 occupation. He said the article was a deliberate provocation that wanted to harm the relations between the two countries.

The reception on Wednesday also marked the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia.

The reception was one of the last major events that Vladimir Remek attended in his capacity of the Czech ambassador in Moscow as his four-year mission is to end soon. It is not yet known who will be the new ambassador.