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LN: Aide with secret past controls Zeman’s campaign

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Prague, May 2 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman’s key adviser, businessman Martin Nejedly, has links to Russia, refuses to provide his curriculum vitae and evidently controls Zeman’s election campaign, though he has no official role in the Presidential Office, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

Zeman launched the campaign for his re-election last week and the official face of his campaign is his wife, Ivana Zemanova, who started the petition campaign in which 50,000 signatures in support of Zeman’s presidential bid need to be gathered.

However, all major decisions are to be made by Nejedly, according to LN.

The paper writes that Nejedly did not answer its question about his role in Zeman’s election team.

Nejedly is known to have strong links to Russia and he raised funds for Zeman’s first successful presidential campaign in 2012.

Because of his business activities in Russia, LN asked Nejedly to release his official curriculum vitae in October 2013, but he has not provided any since then. The Presidential Office claims that it cannot provide Nejedly’s CV, under the pretext that he is not its official employee, the paper writes.

Officially being Zeman’s adviser for energy policy, Nejedly has a large office at the Presidential Office, his cards say he is a member of the office and he has the right to accompany the president during all foreign trips.

In May 2015, Nejedly took part in Zeman’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, while Czech ambassador to Moscow Vladimir Remek and Zeman’s then foreign policy chief Hynek Kmonicek were left behind the closed door, the paper writes.

Several months afterwards, LN found out that Nejedly obtained a diplomatic passport at the Presidential Office’s request. This occurred quietly, while when Nejedly celebrated his 50th birthday last summer, he invited many guests to the Royal Summer Palace of the Prague Castle and he covered the fence with boards so that no passer-by could see what was going on inside. In a way, the Castle symbolically returned to the era of communist president Gustav Husak who also prevented common people from watching him, the paper says.

Nejedly is the deputy chairman of the extra-parliamentary Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO) that helped Zeman become president. According to LN’s sources, Nejedly has the main say in the SPO thanks to his financial support for the party.

Nejedly got acquainted with Zeman through another lobbyist, Miroslav Slouf. Slouf was a highly influential grey eminence at the time when Zeman was prime minister and Social Democrat leader and he was behind Zeman’s successful return to politics in 2013, the paper writes.

Slouf inspired Nejedly to sponsor Zeman’s campaign. “I want to help Zeman because he can change a lot in politics,” Nejedly said in 2010. Already then, speculations appeared that Nejedly is a link between Russian capital and Zeman’s political campaign. Nejedly headed the Lukoil Aviation Czech firm that delivered fuel to Czech airports and that was a branch of the Russian oil company Lukoil. After a long court dispute last year, Lukoil Czech Aviation had to pay a fine of 27.7 million crowns to the Czech state.

When Zeman was elected president, he took his new aide and sponsor Nejedly with him to the Prague Castle, but he had no use for Slouf, who was the main organiser of his political comeback but who was unpopular among the public. This caused a rift between Slouf and Nejedly, the paper says.

LN writes that The New York Times reporter indirectly said earlier this year that Nejedly promoted Russian interests in the Czech Presidential Office and that he was an example of how Moscow used people to strengthen its influence.

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