President Shocks Czechs by Swearing During Radio Show

Czech President Milos Zeman shocked his countrymen and drew criticism from media and politicians by repeatedly swearing during a live radio broadcast.

Speaking in an interview on Czech public radio yesterday, Zeman used at least three different swear words, stumbling most when he tried to translate the name of the Russian dissident all-female punk group Pussy Riot into Czech.

“Zeman’s Vulgarity Shocks,” read today’s top headline in the country’s leading newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. Daily Pravo’s headline said the president “surprised with vulgarity” during his radio interview from Lany, Czech Republic.

Zeman has repeatedly caused controversy at home and abroad since he won the country’s first popular presidential election last year. In June, the government sought to smooth relations with Arab nations after Zeman prompted protests from Muslim organizations when he linked Islam to a deadly terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

About 100 people filed complaints to the state regulatory Council for Radio and Television Broadcast following the interview, CTK newswire reported, citing council Chairman Ivan Krejci.

The comments hurt the reputation of the president’s office and “aren’t helping the Czech Republic’s image abroad,” CTK quoted Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka as saying.

Stabilizing Society

The president “used these saltier expressions mainly to approach the mental world of his opponents, who are very tolerant when such language is used by other politicians,” Zeman’s spokesman, Jiri Ovcacek, said in a text message responding to a Bloomberg News request for comment.

Zeman has used his direct mandate to carve a stronger role for the president in the political system traditionally dominated by the parliament and the government. Last year, Zeman bypassed lawmakers and picked his own interim cabinet to lead the country after the collapse of a government backed by an elected coalition.

Domestic media and opposition politicians criticized Zeman last month for saying during a visit to Beijing that he wanted to learn from China how “to stabilize society” and not lecture it about human rights.

Radio interviews from Lany began in 1990 by Vaclav Havel, the country’s first post-communist head of state. Havel, a dissident playwright-turned-politician who died in 2011, stopped doing them in 2000. Zeman, 70, renewed the radio appearances last year.

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