Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been honored by Czech President Miloš Zeman during the state decorations ceremony, following proposals to do so from Deputy Barbora Urbanová of the Mayors and Independents party.
The Czech president expressed his admiration for the Ukrainian leader, who has so far refused U.S. assistance in fleeing the country and remained in Kyiv to help coordinate his country’s defenses.
“Although the United States offered to evacuate him, Zelensky remained in the capital of his country, from where he controls the defense,” the Czech president said in a surprising step, considering he strong support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past.
“Not far from our borders, the war caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine is raging, and I think it is crucial to take this opportunity to remember the people of Ukraine,” Zeman continued. “That is why the Ukrainian national flag was hung in Prague Castle’s courtyard today. That is why the Ukrainian anthem was heard for the first time, and that is why we would ask you to financially contribute, for instance through a Catholic charity, to help Ukrainian refugees,” the Czech leader added.
The president honored his Ukrainian counterpart with the Order of the White Lion, the highest order of the Czech Republic. Former Ambassador to Russia, former MEP Vladimír Remek, and former Minister of Health Roman Prymula who was in office during the second wave of Covid-19, also received the honor.
Zeman has presented the decoration over the past two years, however the ceremony has been unable to occur due to the unfavorable pandemic conditions.
Some of the invited guests opted not to attend the ceremony due to the president’s earlier pro-Russian stance. For example, the Chairman of the Senate Miloš Vystrčil and the Chamber of Deputies speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová did not come. On the contrary, most members of the government were present.