Czech President Denies Refusing to Be Served by Disabled Waiters

Czech President Milos Zeman’s office denied a report in Pravo newspaper on Wednesday that it forced a restaurant in the country’s north to remove staff with disabilities during a visit by the leader.

The president’s office made no such request, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said in an e-mailed statement.

Pravo earlier quoted an unnamed source as saying Zeman’s aides told the Krinicky Pivovar microbrewery in the town of Krasna Lipa that two waiters with disabilities couldn’t serve during the president’s lunch with local business people on Tuesday. The facility couldn’t meet the office’s requirements and hired hotel-school students to wait on the guests instead, the restaurant’s owner, Jan Srb, told the newspaper.

“It’s evident that the goal of the disinformation by Pravo is to discredit the president in the eyes of the public,” Ovcacek wrote. The newspaper’s claim that Zeman’s office wanted the waiters with disabilities removed is “a complete lie,” he said.

About 40 people protested outside Krinicky Pivovar against an earlier statement by the president that children with disabilities should be educated separately, according to Pravo. Zeman addressed the demonstrators, telling them special schools take better care of students with disabilities and shield them from “ridicule by other, normal kids,” Pravo reported.