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Critics accuse Zeman of lying about Cardinal Vlk

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Prague, June 8 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman has been expediently lying about the late Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the board of the Memory of Nation project, which records memoirs of eyewitnesses to past events, said today in reaction to Zeman’s decision not to bestow a state award on Vlk in memoriam.

Vlk is among the 36 personalities whose awarding by Zeman the Chamber of Deputies proposed on Wednesday. Zeman previously made it clear that he is not going to award him.

The state awards must not serve settling personal or political accounts, the Memory of Nation board, whose members include sociologist Jirina Siklova, astronomer Jiri Grygar, theologian Tomas Halik and Vaclav Havel Library head Michael Zantovsky, wrote on its website.

In early June, Zeman said he is not considering awarding Vlk on the October 28 national holiday marking the anniversary of the birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

He said Vlk had done everything for the disputes between the Church and the state to be the sharpest possible.

“This is a lie presented by a man who has shamelessly awarded former communists, informers of the communist secret police and former communist ministers, and who has blackmailed the culture minister in connection with awarding his uncle, former concentration camps inmate Jiri Brady,” the National Memory board wrote.

It wrote that Vlk, persecuted by the communist regime, conducted a dialogue with the state representatives about the separation of the state and the Church, which is usual in western Europe and the USA.

“The fact that the state returned the stolen property [to churches] only 24 years after the fall of the totalitarian regime is to blame on political populists. Milos Zeman is one of them, unfortunately,” the board wrote.

It wrote that Zeman publicly disgraced Vlk by an expedient lie already once before when he asserted that Vlk violated the late Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek’s alleged promise that the Catholic Church would not demand property restitution.

The Prague Archbishopric then dismissed Zeman’s statement as a lie.

Vlk, who died of a serious disease on March 18, aged 84, criticised Zeman in the past.

Last time he criticised him in the autumn of 2016 over the circumstances of his decision not to bestow a state award on Brady, former Oswiecim (Auschwitz) camp inmate and a relative of Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).

Vlk, former Archbishop of Prague, then called on officials to boycott the October 28 award-giving ceremony at Prague Castle. He also said people should better choose candidates for president.

In addition, Vlk criticised as anti-constitutional a property settlement deal between the Church and the Prague Castle Management.

Zeman did not attend Vlk’s funeral, citing Vlk’s support for the church restitution and his recent call for a boycott of the October 28 ceremony.

The National Memory is a publicly available collection of recordings of thousands of eyewitnesses, organised by the Post Bellum NGO together with Czech Radio and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR).


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