How to receive state honors: Make flattering Zeman documentary

Robert Sedláček, who shot ‘Miloš Zeman: A Politician’s Obituary and Homage to Vysocina,’ will be honored on same day as Nicholas Winton

Prague, Oct. 22 (ČTK) — One of the personalities to receive state orders from Czech President Miloš Zeman Oct. 28 will be filmmaker Robert Sedláček, 41, who shot a documentary about him in 2007, daily Lidové noviny (LN) writes today, referring to a quotation from Sedláček.

“Yes, I have heard this piece of news,” he told LN.

Sedláček and Zeman joined forces during the shooting of the documentary Milos Zeman: A Politician’s Obituary and Homage to Vysocina (Miloš Zeman: nekrolog politika a oslava Vysočiny) seven years ago, LN says.

Petr Kamberský writes in a commentary on the issue in LN that the young director will not be awarded for his positive portrait but rather for “spending hundreds of hours with his mentor Zeman and drinking hectoliters of alcohol together.”

LN recalls that Sedláček has also made documentary films about Zeman’s favorites, such as philosopher Václav Bělohradský and Zeman’s agriculture advisor František Čuba, both of whom, not surprisingly, received state honors at last year’s Oct. 28 ceremony, which annually marks the date of the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Čuba, who was elected senator over the weekend, gained fame under the previous regime as the head of a “miraculously” successful agricultural cooperative in Slušovice, south Moravia.

LN speculates that film director Filip Renč, 49, who shot an election spot for Zeman for his presidential campaign, might be awarded as well. However, Renč told LN he knew nothing about it.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček refused to comment on the potential candidates for state decorations.

The Presidential Office traditionally does not release the list of the people to be decorated Oct. 28 beforehand.

However, Zeman previously announced that Sir Nicholas Winton, 105, who saved hundreds of Czech Jewish children before World War II, would receive the Order of the White Lion at a separate ceremony Oct. 28.

Zeman will also decorate the five soldiers who were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan in July, and the late Soviet dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya, who was one of the “Magnificent Eight” who protested in Moscow in 1968 against the Soviet Union–initiated invasion of Czechoslovakia, in memoriam.

This year’s awards ceremony at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, will again be accompanied by controversies.

Zeman did not invite two university rectors whom he had disputes with in the past. The Czech Rectors’ Conference has criticized this decision.

“We do not consider the celebrations of the anniversary of Oct. 28 to be a private function but an official, highly representative assembly. For this reason, the circle of the invited guests should not be influenced by any feuds from the past,” the rectors said in a joint statement.

They said the participation of university representatives was a sign of respect for the Czech Republic and the awarded personalities.

Last year, 20 of the 28 rectors of public and private universities and colleges rejected Zeman’s invitation.

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