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Drahoš, Zeman to fight in two TV duels before presidential runoff

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Prague, Jan 18 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman and his challenger Jiri Drahos will fight in two live broadcast television duels before the next weekend runoff, on commercial Prima TV on Tuesday and public Czech Television (CT) on Thursday, spokespersons of both TV stations told CTK on Thursday.

Commercial Nova TV also plans to broadcast a debate even though only Zeman plans to take part in it.

Zeman promised to come to four presidential debates, broadcast by CT, Prima, Nova and private TV Barrandov, though he originally said more than two duels would be boring. Drahos, the Academy of Sciences former head, said he would take part in two duels and he is meeting voters all around the country before the runoff that will be held on January 26-27.

Zeman, 73, and Drahos, 68, advanced from the first round of the presidential election with almost 39 and 27 percent, respectively, last weekend. Unlike the other eight bidders, Zeman refused to take part in any of the debates of presidential candidates organised before the first round.

TV Prima will broadcast the Zeman vs Drahos duel on January 23 at 20:15 and the debate will be moderated by Karel Vorisek, Adam Halmosi said on its behalf. Each of the candidates can bring 400 viewers to the Karlin music theatre in which the duel will take place, Halmosi added.

CT will broadcast the duel at 20:00 on January 25 and it will be moderated by Svetlana Witowska CT spokeswoman Karolina Blinkova said. Vaclav Moravec, who traditionally moderates political debates, declined the offer. “I informed the CT general director on Sunday that I would not moderate the debate,” he said previously.

Zeman repeatedly criticised Moravec for being biased against him.

“Svetlana is an experienced moderator who has long been doing very well in interviews with top politicians,” CT news director Zdenek Samal tweeted.

Witowska, 45, has worked in the media since the 1990s. Apart from CT, she worked in Prima TV and the CTK news agency. She regularly interviews politicians in the Interview CT24 programme now.

TV Nova will broadcast a one-hour interview with Zeman on Sunday, which will be moderated by Rey Koranteng, if Drahos does not arrive, its spokeswoman Jana Ondrejechova said.

Drahos confirmed to CTK that he would not turn up as he will be meeting voters in the cities of Brno and Ostrava.

TV Barrandov scheduled its pre-election programme for Monday.

Both candidates are preparing for their TV duels carefully.

Drahos said he was preparing and that he also expected dirty tricks to be used in the debates.

Zeman is studying background material that his aides prepared for him in the presidential chateau in Lany near Prague, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said, adding that Zeman is primarily considering his tactics.

Zeman is known as a good speaker.

Drahos said he does not fear Zeman’s rhetoric. He said Zeman had not taken part in a political debate for years. Zeman’s duel with his rival in the previous presidential election five years ago seems to be the last one, Drahos said.

He said Zeman repeatedly violated something he said in the past. For example, Zeman declared in 2013 that he supported the euro adoption and that the Czech Republic would adopt the euro as its currency by 2017, Drahos said.

The country still does not plan to adopt the euro and Zeman does not promote euro adoption anymore now.

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