Czechs Nominate 139 Individuals For State Decorations From President Zeman

The award ceremony at Prague Castle on 28 October will be the last of Zeman’s presidential terms. Credit: Zenon Moreau / BD.

Prague, Aug 27 (CTK) – 139 people have been nominated for state decorations to Czech President Milos Zeman, who will present orders and medals on 28 October, the national holiday, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK yesterday.

Individuals and organisations can send their proposals for state awards until the middle of the summer holidays each year. As well as this, Zeman may choose from the proposals of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the two houses of the Czech parliament.

The final decision on who will receive decorations is made by the president.

A total of 169 nominations from citizens related to 139 people, Ovcacek said.

The number of such letters the president receives from citizens has been decreasing in the past few years. In 2019, 257 personalities were nominated for awards, compared to 243 in 2020 and 151 last year.

This year’s 28 October will be the last holiday when Zeman is to present state decorations in his capacity as president, as his second and last five-year term expires in March. The presidential election is scheduled for January.

Zeman previously announced that he would meet the proposal for giving the Order of the White Lion top state award to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In his speech in March, Zeman highlighted Zelenskiy’s courage during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A citizen, group of citizens and an organisation can send proposals for state decorations to the president, who may take them into consideration but does not have to.

In the past two years, the award ceremony at Prague Castle has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions as well as Zeman’s health condition, due to which he spent last 28 October in hospital. The award ceremony was postponed until 7 March 2022, the anniversary of the birth of the first Czechoslovak president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

This year, the Chamber of Deputies has proposed the members of the Masin brothers’ anti-communist resistance group for the Order of the White Lion, along with civilian counter-intelligence service (BIS) director Michal Koudelka and Zelenskiy.

Zeman has seven times refused to approve a government proposal to promote Koudelka to the rank of general, and is thus not expected to decorate him either. In total, deputies proposed state decorations for 34 personalities.

The Senate has proposed only eight people for state decoration. Senators want the Order of the White Lion to be awarded posthumously to the members of the Three Kings anti-Nazi group: Josef Balaban, Josef Masin and Vaclav Moravek, who performed sabotage and passed on news to the Czech exile government in London during WWII, as as well as General Karel Lukas, a member of the foreign anti-Nazi resistance movement who was tortured to death in a Communist prison.

The highest Czech state decoration is the Order of the White Lion, followed by the Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. The president also awards medals of heroism and medals of merit.

State decorations are traditionally presented on national holidays, mainly on 28 October, the Day of Establishment of the Independent Czechoslovakia in 1918, or possibly on 1 January, the Day of Restoration of the Independent Czech State. A foreign citizen can receive a Czech state decoration at any time.

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