Ex-cosmonaut to be Czech ambassador to Russia
December 30, 2013

Ex-cosmonaut to be Czech ambassador to Russia

Remek may start in Moscow in mid-January; formerly was commercial counselor

Prague, Dec 30 (ČTK) — Vladimír Remek, a Czech MEP (for the Communists, KSČM), will probably take up the post of Czech ambassador to Russia in mid-January when he is to hand over his credentials to President Vladimir Putin, ČTK has learned.

Remek is now preparing for his departure for Moscow.

The post of Czech ambassador in Russia has been vacant for one year now.

The last ambassador so far was Petr Kolář, who took up the post in 2010 and was withdrawn at his own request as of Dec. 31, 2012. He left diplomacy afterwards.

Addressed by ČTK today, Remek only said he plans to leave for Russia after New Year. He would not comment on the date of his handing of credentials.

The Foreign Ministry recently said it would like Remek to take up the ambassadorial post still before the February opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and Czech President Miloš Zeman’s planned participation in a reception Putin will host on this occasion.

Some world statesmen, including German President Joachim Gauck, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, French President Francois Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama, plan to boycott the reception over Russia’s approach to LGBT rights.

Zeman previously said he is ready to attend the event but also to tell Moscow what he thinks of the state of human rights observance in Russia.

Remek, 65, has a long experience with Russia not only from the communist era, when he was a cosmonaut aboard a Soviet spaceship, but also from the post-communist era when he worked as a representative of Czech private companies and also as a commercial counselor at the Czech embassy in Moscow for many years.

Remek’s appointment as ambassador was pushed through by Zeman, a former socialist prime minister, against the will and only after the summer departure of the previous Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).

Remek is the first and only Czechoslovak cosmonaut. He flew to outer space on a Russian spacecraft with a Russian colleague on March 2, 1978. He became the first cosmonaut of neither Soviet nor U.S. origin.

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