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Horáček wants to lift Prague Castle checks

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Prague, Aug 15 (CTK) – Presidential candidate Michal Horacek, 65, promised that if he were elected, he would lift security checks at the entrances to Prague Castle, the president’s seat, and arrange an audit of the Castle financial management, at a press conference on Tuesday.

He also said he would donate his presidential salary to a special fund in aid of the elderly in need, for instance, those facing distraint due to high debts.

The next direct presidential election will be held early next year.

Lyricist and former successful businessman Horacek told reporters that he would like to give particular promises to voters that he would fulfil within the first 100 days in office.

One of them was an apology to the family of the late writer and journalist Ferdinand Peroutka (1895-1978). “He is a great Czech and the insult to him is painful and must be redressed,” Horacek said, referring to a dispute between incumbent President Milos Zeman and Peroutka’s grand-daughter.

Zeman said Peroutka had shown pro-Nazi leanings in his article “Hitler is a Gentleman.” Peroutka’s granddaughter Terezie Kaslova took the matter to court, which ruled that the Presidential Office must apologise to her. Zeman insisted that he had read this article by Peroutka, but the Presidential Office failed to prove it. Historians claim that Peroutka never wrote such an article.

The Presidential Office did not apologise to Kaslova and so it was fined 100,000 crowns and faced a distraint for ignoring the verdict. Horacek said he would cover the fine immediately.

He also promised that all his aides in the Presidential Office would have a valid security clearance if they needed it.

He said he would like to open Prague Castle to the public again and cancel the criticised security checks, including door frame metal detectors.

The police security checks of all visitors to Prague Castle were introduced last summer, which stirred up strong criticism. The checkpoints were gradually equipped with modern technology, including metal detectors and a camera-monitoring system, and wooden booths were added last autumn.

Horacek said he would release his promises on a special website where voters could comment on them.

Horacek announced in the past that he would fund his election campaign from his own sources and that he had already collected the necessary 50,000 signatures in support of his candidacy.

Current President Milos Zeman 72, who was elected for a five-year term in 2013, will seek re-election. Other candidates are former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, 68, physician Marek Hilser, 41, and Vratislav Kulhanek, 73, former chairman of the Skoda car maker’s board.

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