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Miloš Zeman
Miloš Zeman 2022.jpg
Zeman in 2022
3rd President of the Czech Republic
In office
8 March 2013 – 8 March 2023
Prime Minister Petr Nečas
Jiří Rusnok
Bohuslav Sobotka
Andrej Babiš
Petr Fiala
Preceded by Václav Klaus
Succeeded by Petr Pavel
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
In office
17 July 1998 – 15 July 2002
President Václav Havel
Preceded by Josef Tošovský
Succeeded by Vladimír Špidla
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
27 June 1996 – 17 July 1998
Preceded by Milan Uhde
Succeeded by Václav Klaus
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
28 February 1993 – 7 April 2001
Preceded by Jiří Horák
Succeeded by Vladimír Špidla
Personal details
Born (1944-09-28) 28 September 1944 (age 79)
Kolín, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
(now Czech Republic)
Political party Communist Party
Civic Forum
Civic Movement
Social Democratic Party
(2007–2009, 1970–1990)
Party of Civic Rights
Blanka Zemanová
(m. 1971; div. 1978)
Ivana Bednarčíková
(m. 1993)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Economics, Prague

Miloš Zeman (Czech: [ˈmɪloʃ ˈzɛman]  (Speaker Icon.svg listen); born 28 September 1944) is a Czech politician who served as the third president of the Czech Republic and eleventh president since the Czechoslovak declaration of independence from 2013 to 2023. He also previously served as the prime minister of the Czech Republic from 1998 to 2002. As leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party during the 1990s, he is credited with the revival of the party into one of the country's major political forces. Zeman briefly served as the President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1996 to 1998.

Born in Kolín to a modest family, Zeman joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1968, but was expelled two years later due to his opposition to the Warsaw Pact invasion. Following the Velvet Revolution in 1989, he joined the Czech Social Democratic Party, which he led into the 1996 election.

Zeman became Prime Minister following the 1998 legislative election after striking a controversial pact with his long-time rival Václav Klaus. The pact became known as the Opposition agreement and was heavily criticized by President Václav Havel, the media and politicians for weakening the parliamentary opposition. His government continued with privatization of publicly owned Czech industries and established new administrative regions. It also attempted to change the electoral system to first-past-the-post voting, which was struck down by the Constitutional Court as unconstitutional. Under his leadership, the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999. Zeman was the last leader to vote in favor of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, effectively green-lighting the operation. He ran for president in 2003 but was eliminated after his own party members did not vote for him.

In January 2013, Zeman was elected President of the Czech Republic, a mostly ceremonial figurehead of the parliamentary republic. He is the first directly elected president in Czech history; both of his predecessors, Václav Havel and Václav Klaus, were elected by the Czech Parliament. In 2018, he was re-elected for a second term. During his tenure, Radio Free Europe has described him as "one of the European Union's most Kremlin-friendly leaders" due to his pro-Russian stance. However, Zeman's supporters contest this characterization, and Zeman subsequently strongly opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Early years

Zeman was born in Kolín. His parents divorced when he was two years old and he was raised by his mother, who was a teacher. He studied at a high school in Kolín, then from 1965 at the University of Economics in Prague, graduating in 1969.

Zeman joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1968, during the Prague Spring, but was expelled in 1970 due to his opposition to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was dismissed from his job and spent more than ten years working for the sports organisation Sportpropag (1971–84). From 1984, he worked at the company Agrodat, but he lost his job again in 1989, as a result of a critical article he had written in Technický magazín in August 1989, entitled "Prognostika a přestavba" (Forecasting and Perestroika).

Political activities before presidency

In summer 1989, he appeared on Czechoslovak Television criticising the poor state of the Czechoslovak economy. His speech caused a scandal, but his views helped him join the leaders of the Civic Forum a few months later, during the Velvet Revolution.

In 1990 Zeman became a member of the House of the Nations of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly. In 1992, he ran successfully for the House of the People of the Federal Assembly, already as a member of the Czechoslovak Social Democracy (ČSSD), which he joined the same year. In 1993, he was elected chairman of the party, and in the following years he transformed it into one of the country's major parties.

The success of ČSSD in the 1996 legislative election allowed him to prevent his rival Václav Klaus and his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) from forming a majority government. Zeman became the President of the Chamber of Deputies and held this post until the early election in 1998.

In 1998, ČSSD won the election and Zeman became Prime Minister of a minority government, which he led for the next four years. In April 2001, he was replaced as leader by Vladimír Špidla. Zeman then retired and moved to live in the countryside in the Vysočina Region. He won a presidential primary in 2002 to become the ČSSD nominee for president, but lost the 2003 presidential election to Václav Klaus, due to party disunity. Zeman became an outspoken critic of his former party's leaders. He left ČSSD on 21 March 2007, due to conflicts with the party leader and chairman, Jiří Paroubek.

In October 2009, he founded a new party, Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci. The party did not win any seats in the 2010, 2013 or 2017 legislative elections.

Presidency (2013–2023)

Miloš Zeman Senate of Poland
Zeman in the Senate of Poland, 24 May 2013

In February 2012 Miloš Zeman announced his return to politics and intention to run in the first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic. Polls indicated that he was one of the two strongest candidates in the election, alongside Jan Fischer. Zeman narrowly won the first round of the elections and progressed to the second round to face Karel Schwarzenberg, winning by a clearer margin. His term began in March 2013.

In May 2013, Zeman refused to grant a tenured professorship to literary historian Martin C. Putna, due to Putna's appearance at 2011 Prague Gay Pride.

In June 2013, the coalition government led by Petr Nečas collapsed due to a corruption and spying scandal. Zeman, ignoring the political balance of power in the Czech Parliament, appointed his friend and long-term ally Jiří Rusnok as Prime Minister, and tasked him with forming a new government. This was described in parts of the Czech and foreign media as a political power grab, undermining parliamentary democracy and expanding his powers. On 10 July, during the appointment of Rusnok's cabinet, Zeman advised the new cabinet members not to "let yourself get annoyed by media criticism from jealous fools who have never in their lives done anything useful". Rusnok's government was short-lived, and resigned after losing a vote of confidence.

Zeman played an important role in a scandal that occurred in October 2013, shortly after the Czech legislative election. ČSSD First Deputy Chairman Michal Hašek and his allies in the party called for chairman Bohuslav Sobotka to resign following the party's poor election result, and excluded him from the team negotiating the next government. However, it subsequently emerged that Hašek and his allies had attended a secret post-election meeting with Zeman, where they were rumoured to have negotiated a 'coup' in ČSSD. Hašek initially denied the accusations, stating on Czech Television that "there was no meeting". However, his allies (deputies Milan Chovanec, Zdeněk Škromach, Jeroným Tejc and Jiří Zimola) later admitted that the meeting took place. The event sparked public protests in the country and eventually led to Hašek apologising and resigning his position in the party. Zeman denied having initiated the meeting. His Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci (SPOZ) received 1.5% of the vote in the election, winning no seats.

The President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind inspecting the Guard of Honour, during the ceremonial welcome, at 1st Courtyard, in Prague, Czech Republic
Zeman with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on 7 September 2018

On 6 April 2014, in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, Zeman called for strong action to be taken, possibly including sending NATO forces into Ukraine, if Russia tried to annex the eastern part of the country. Speaking on a radio show he said that, "The moment Russia decides to widen its territorial expansion to the eastern part of Ukraine, that is where the fun ends. There I would plead not only for the strictest EU sanctions, but even for military readiness of the North Atlantic Alliance, like for example NATO forces entering Ukrainian territory." The Czech Republic has been a NATO member since 1999, when Zeman was prime minister. In the Czech constitutional system it is the government that has the main responsibility for foreign policy, although the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The ČSSD government of Bohuslav Sobotka resisted strong EU sanctions against Russia after the annexation, because of the negative economic impact such sanctions would have had on the country.

Demonstrace za slušné Česko – demise Andreje Babiše 2
Protest against Zeman in Prague, 17 November 2018

In November 2014, while Czechs celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution against the Soviet-style communist regime, the festivities turned into an appeal for Zeman to resign. Many Czechs believe that Miloš Zeman has betrayed the legacy of Václav Havel who helped Czechoslovakia and then Czech Republic become a champion of human rights. Protesters see Zeman as too sympathetic to authoritarian regimes and too close to Russia and China. They carried football-style red penalty cards as a warning of ejection to Zeman and pelted eggs at him.

An opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency in March 2016 reported that 62% of Czechs trusted President Miloš Zeman, up from 55% in September 2015. By December 2016, his approval rating had fallen to 48% following a series of scandals, with around 49% of those surveyed stating that they didn't trust him.

On 9 March 2017, during a meeting with his supporters, Zeman announced his intention to run again for the presidency, confirming his decision the next day in a press conference. He said that he had been persuaded by the support of the people. He stated that he did not think he was the favourite in the election, and that he would not run a political campaign, attack his rivals, or participate in debates. He also announced that he would participate in a television programme called A week with the President.

Zeman decided to run for a second term and stood in the presidential elections in 2018. Observers compared the election to other elections such as the 2016 United States and 2017 French presidential elections, which saw a liberal internationalist and a right-wing populist running against each other. Zeman won the election with 51.37% in the second round.

On 25 July 2019, the Senate, for the first time in the history of the Czech Republic, approved and delivered to the Chamber of Deputies articles of impeachment against President Zeman, related to eight instances where he had allegedly acted in breach of the constitution, including naming and dismissing cabinet ministers, interference in court cases, and acting against the foreign interests of the Czech government. The Chamber of Deputies rejected indicting Zeman on 26 September 2019 with only 58 MPs voting for indictment out of 120 votes needed.

On 10 October 2021, the day after the 2021 Czech legislative election, Zeman was hospitalized, throwing the timeline for the start of government formation talks into doubt. After eight days with almost no details about Zeman's health condition from his spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček nor the head of the president's office Vratislav Mynář, Senate President Miloš Vystrčil said at a press conference that he had received an update from the Central Military Hospital (UVN) and the President's chief physician Miroslav Zavoral that Zeman was "currently unable to perform any work duties due to health reasons". On 25 November Zeman was discharged from the hospital after his condition improved. The hospital said it would have preferred Zeman to remain hospitalized, but accepted his decision. However, on the same day, he tested positive for COVID-19 and thus returned to the hospital for two more days.

On 19 October 2022, Zeman announced he would retire from politics at the end of his second term, in March of 2023.


On 19 April 2023, Zeman opened a new office on Jaselská street in Prague 6, rented from the Prague Archbishopric. He said he expects to welcome visitors once a week.

Political views

Zeman was considered a centre-left politician during his premiership and term as leader of the Social Democrats, but as president he began to be associated with far-right anti-immigration policies in response to the European migrant crisis. The Guardian described Zeman as "left-of-centre" in the run-up to the 2013 presidential election, but as "far-right" and a populist in 2018. The Independent described him as a "right-wing populist" in 2018. The New York Times described Zeman as a "populist leftist" in 2016. Other outlets have simply labeled Zeman a populist. He has been compared to former United States president Donald Trump by Western press, and endorsed Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.


2016 Czech Demonstration Against Communist party China & its dictator in Prague with National Flags of TAIWAN & Tibet 反中示威與臺灣&圖博國旗在捷克
2016 demonstration against Zeman and China in Prague with picture of late President Václav Havel and Tibetan religious leader 14th Dalai Lama with flags of Tibet and Taiwan

In 2014, he attracted criticism when he said he wished to learn how China had "stabilized" its society. In 2016 he invited Chinese president Xi Jinping on a state visit, which sparked a wave of protest. He labeled pro-Tibet protestors "mentally impaired individuals" and used police to prevent protesters from reaching Prague Castle. Police also entered a building of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) to remove a Tibetan flag which had been hung out of a window. Deputy Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek accused Zeman of "bootlicking authoritarian and unfree regimes". Those actions were seen by critics as a contravention of Czech society's freedom of expression, and protests were held by at least 50 members of the two chambers of the Parliament, opposition leaders and civil society groups as well as hundreds of supporters of Taiwan, Tibet, and Turkic Uyghur separatists in Xinjiang.

Zeman has appointed Ye Jianming, the founder and chairman of CEFC China Energy, as his economic adviser. The company is linked to the People's Liberation Army. CEFC China Energy has acquired multiple assets in the Czech Republic, including travel agencies and media companies.

Gun control

In 2016, following a number of terror attacks around Europe, Zeman joined a number of other Czech politicians and security professionals in urging the 240,000 gun owners in the country with concealed carry licences to carry their firearms, in order to be able to contribute to the protection of soft targets. Zeman's wife also obtained a concealed carry license and a revolver.

European Union

Zeman has expressed both supportive and critical positions regarding the European Union. As prime minister, he helped bring the Czech Republic into the EU, and he has described himself as a "federalist" who supports EU membership. Before becoming president, he promised to fly the flag of Europe at Prague Castle, something that Zeman's predecessor, Václav Klaus, refused to do; he did so shortly after taking office. On the same day, Zeman ratified the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism, which Klaus had also refused to do, making the Czech Republic the last country to do so. In June 2017, Zeman stated that Czech people are "irrationally afraid" of adopting the Euro as the Czech Republic's currency.

Despite his pro-EU statements and actions, Zeman supports holding a referendum on Czech EU membership similar to the Brexit referendum held in the United Kingdom in 2016. He also has been labelled a Eurosceptic and opposes the EU's migrant quotas. Some of his critics have accused him of having pro-Russia leanings, favouring it over the EU.

Environment and climate change

Like his predecessor and former opponent Václav Klaus, Zeman is a climate change denier. He has said that in his opinion, human activity probably cannot influence global warming.


Reuven Rivlin in a state dinner in honor of President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman and his wife. November 2018 (Rivlin-Zeman2)
Zeman and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in a state dinner in honor of Zeman, Jerusalem, Israel, 26 November 2018

Zeman is a long-standing supporter of the State of Israel. Zeman was one of the most prominent international leaders to support the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital under President Donald Trump, and he voiced support for following the US in moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. He criticized the EU's position on Jerusalem, calling its member states "cowards" and stating that they "are doing all they can so a pro-Palestinian terrorist movement can have supremacy over a pro-Israeli movement."

Zeman ordered the Israeli flag to fly at the Prague Castle to show support for Israel amid the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis.


In June 2021, Zeman described transgender people as "disgusting" in a TV interview, and said that Pride protests were minorities trying to put themselves on a superior footing to others. He also said that if he were younger, he would organize a counter-demonstration of heterosexuals. He also said during the interview that he supported recent laws passed in Hungary banning the mention of LGBTQ issues in the education system.


Zeman is opposed to having a Czech embassy in Kosovo. He said that he is against the recognition of Kosovo. Whilst visiting Belgrade in 2014, he stated his opposition to the formation of an independent Kosovan army, equating it to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). He commented on the history of terrorist acts committed by the KLA, and noted that its disbanding was a component of the peace agreements. During the same visit, he said he hoped Serbia would join the European Union soon.

Middle East and views on Islam

Zeman has expressed concern about the growth of Islamic terrorism and of ISIL. He likened Muslims who believe in the Qur'an to followers of Nazism.

Zeman called for unified armed operation against Islamic State (ISIL) led by the U.N. Security Council. In June 2015, Zeman commented that: "If European countries accept a wave of migrants, there will be terrorist groups among them, of which also a Libyan minister has warned. By accepting the migrants, we strongly facilitate Islamic State’s expansion to Europe." Zeman described the Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe as an "organized invasion". In September 2015, Zeman rejected the European Union's proposal of compulsory migrant quotas, saying, "Only the future will show that this was a big mistake".

Zeman said that Turkey should not be in the European Union and criticised Turkish President Erdoğan's anti-European rhetoric. He also accused Turkey of allying with ISIL in its fight against Syrian Kurds.

United States and NATO

Zeman, who played a role in the Czech Republic's accession to NATO, has called for a referendum on NATO membership, though he supports remaining in the organization. In November 2012, during a speech at the University of Economics, Prague, Zeman explained his dislike for Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State. Zeman stated that Albright had promised that there would be no bombardment of civilians during the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia. "And Madeleine Albright made a promise, and Madeleine Albright didn't keep the promise. Since then, I don't like her."

Secretary Pompeo Meets with Czech President Zeman (50220105697)
Zeman with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 12 August 2020

On 18 May 2021, during a visit by the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, Zeman apologized to Serbia for the 1999 NATO bombing, describing it as a "mistake and worse than a crime".


In March 2016, Zeman defended Poland's newly elected Law and Justice government, saying: “I expressed the view that the Polish government, which was created as a result of free elections, has every right to carry out activities for which it received a mandate in these elections. It should not be subject to moralising or criticism from the European Union, which should finally focus on its primary task – to protect the external borders of the Union.”


Встреча Владимира Путина с Президентом Чехии Милошем Земаном 5
Zeman meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 8 May 2015

Zeman described the war in Donbass as "a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens" with foreign support, and compared it to the Spanish Civil War. Regarding the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, he noted that the Kosovo precedent was used as an argument for the separation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Zeman announced that he intended to visit Moscow for the 2015 Victory Day celebrations and the 70th anniversary of the liberation from Nazi Germany. He said that he was not going to look at military equipment, but rather to honour the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives. He described his visit to Moscow as an "expression of thankfulness that we in this country don't have to speak German, if we would have become submissive collaborators of Aryan origin", and that "we don't have to say Heil Hitler, Heil Himmler, Heil Göring, and eventually Heil Heydrich, that would have been particularly interesting". Most other EU leaders declared that they would not attend the events due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. U.S. ambassador Andrew H. Schapiro criticized the decision, saying that it would "be awkward" if Zeman was the only politician from the EU at the ceremony. Zeman responded by banning him from the Prague Castle.

The ban was later lifted by Zeman's office.

In December 2019, Zeman criticised Russian protests against the Czech decision to recognise the anniversary of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 as a day commemorating the victims, describing it as "absolute insolence".

In April 2021, Zeman cast doubt on Russia's involvement in the 2014 Vrbětice ammunition warehouses explosions, suggesting that the deadly blast could have been caused accidentally due to the mishandling of explosives, and that there was no conclusive evidence to accuse Russia. In response, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Prague on 29 April 2021, calling Zeman "a servant" of Russia, and demanding he be tried for treason.

In response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zeman called for Russia to be cut off from SWIFT. He condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and called for tough sanctions to isolate "the madman" Putin. On 1 March 2022, eight former signatories of Charter 77 including Petr Pithart and Anna Šabatová called on Zeman to abdicate over his previous support for Putin.


In 2015, Zeman, in response to a letter from a group of Czech and Ukrainian historians defending Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), wrote: "I would like to point out that President Yushchenko declared Bandera a national hero, and a similar declaration in the case of Roman Shukhevych, who became known to have shot thousands of Jews in Lvov in 1941, is now being prepared. I can not congratulate Ukraine on such national heroes."

On 7 March 2022, Zeman decided to award Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the highest state award of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, for "his bravery and courage in the face of Russia's invasion".

Personal life

Katerina zemanova (cropped)
Kateřina Zemanová, Miloš Zeman's daughter

In the 1970s, Zeman was married to Blanka Zemanová; the couple divorced in 1978. In 1993, he married his assistant Ivana Bednarčíková (born 29 April 1965).

He has an adult son named David from his first marriage. His daughter from the second, Kateřina Zemanová (born 1 January 1994), was one of the most visible faces in Zeman's presidential election team. In a post-election speech, Zeman asked her to be his "informal First Lady", as his wife is reportedly shy and does not like media attention. When asked about his religious beliefs, he describes himself as a "tolerant atheist".

..... He only slightly curbed his consumption of alcohol and cigarettes after being diagnosed with diabetes in 2015. He is also suffering from diabetic neuropathy in the feet, which causes him difficulties when walking and sometimes requires him to use a wheelchair.

State awards


  • CZE Rad Bileho Lva 1 tridy BAR.svg Former ex-officio Sovereign of the Order of the White Lion (8 March 2013 – 8 March 2023)
  • CZE Rad T-G-Masaryka 1tr (1994) BAR.svg Former ex-officio Sovereign of the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (8 March 2013 – 8 March 2023)


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Miloš Zeman para niños

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