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Drahoš to campaign on ousted rival’s billboards across ČR

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Prague, Jan 18 (CTK) – The team of Jiri Drahos, one of the two Czech presidential bidders heading for the runoff vote, is going to tape over the billboards an unsuccessful rival bidder has offered to him for campaigning with the slogan “I vote for Drahos,” his spokeswoman Katerina Prochazkova told CTK on Thursday.

Michal Horacek offered his billboards to Drahos after last weekend’s first round of the direct election, from which Drahos and incumbent President Milos Zeman emerged as the two most successful of the nine candidates.

Gaining 26.6 percent and 38.6 percent of the vote, respectively, Drahos and Zeman advanced to the runoff due on January 26-27.

Horacek, a lyricist and businessman, ended fourth in the first round of the election, after diplomat Pavel Fischer. He, Fischer, and also other unsuccessful bidders, physician Marek Hilser, former PM Mirek Topolanek and former Skoda Auto head Vratislav Kulhanek, supported Drahos ahead of the runoff vote.

Horacek and Hilser offered to support Drahos’s campaign.

Horacek left his billboards for Drahos to use in campaigning, along with his online campaign and a contact centre. He called on the volunteers who assisted in his own campaign to back Drahos.

Twenty-four large billboards will be taped over by Saturday, also to feature the slogan “I Vote for Drahos”, in addition to the original picture, Prochazkova said.

Drahos has based the final phase of his campaign on touring regions. On Tuesday, he visited the Moravia-Silesia Region. On Thursday, he toured the Plzen Region, west Bohemia, and he will go to South Bohemia on Friday.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said Zeman is staying at the presidential chateau in Lany, central Bohemia, and preparing for television debates with Drahos. He is studying background documents and preparing a strategy, Ovcacek said.

Billboards and advertisements in support of Zeman have appeared in the streets, commissioned by Zeman’s aides and fans from the Friends of Milos Zeman group and the Party of Citizens’ Rights.

A new advertisement appeared in newspapers on Thursday, supporting Zeman and lashing out at Drahos, whom it presents as a supporter of migration. The advertisement has been ordered by Euro-Agency, a company that paid newspaper pro-Zeman advertisements worth 1.8 million crowns before the first round of the election.

Euro-Agency’s director is Miroslav Schon. The firm’s staff told CTK that the advertisements are a private initiative of Schon who is staying abroad now. Nobody else from the firm can comment on the issue, the staff said.

Schon is also a deputy head of the board of directors of the Mountfield garden equipment manufacturer, in which a Chinese investor, Eurasia Development Group, acquired a majority stake in 2016.

Zeman, in his capacity of president since 2013, has supported Chinese investors’ Czech acquisitions.

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