The Czech Republic’s conservative Euroskeptic president has declared that he is an agent of his Russian counterpart, as well as other leaders and nations, during a press conference where he announced his intention to run for a second term.
Speaking in Prague during a televised event on Friday, Milos Zeman launched his 2018 re-election campaign, vowing not to change his often-criticized conservative platform, which includes prioritizing Czech interests over pan-European ones.
Zeman is often at odds with the government of Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, which supports Brussels on issues like anti-Russian sanctions and immigration.
Though the president has limited authority in the Czech Republic, Zeman, 72, who won the office in 2013, remains one of the country’s most popular figures, especially in rural areas.
He has advocated nurturing closer ties with Russia and China, supporting Israel, and limiting the inflow of asylum seekers from Muslim nations.
When asked by a Russian TV channel whether he was concerned about being branded a Russian agent, Zeman poked fun at the Czech media for criticizing his position on Moscow.
“I am an agent of Russia, and particularly of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin” he declared, speaking in Russian. “I should add that I am also an agent of the Chinese President. Lately also of the new American President. I am an agent of Israel, which I have been supporting all this time.”
The Czech President wrapped up the joke by saying that, in truth, he is the agent of only one country – the Czech Republic.