Prague - None of the highest representatives of the Czech state is present at a traditional reception hosted today by the Russian Embassy in Prague on the occasion of the celebrations of the end of World War Two in Europe.
Bývalý prezident Václav Klaus přijíždí na ruskou ambasádu, kde 9. května ruský velvyslanec Sergej Kiseljov uspořádal recepci ke Dni vítězství, kterým si Rusko připomíná konec druhé světové války v roce 1945. ČTK ČTK
Neither President Milos Zeman, nor Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, nor Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (both Social Democrats, CSSD) attended the reception.
The heads of the two houses of parliament, Milan Stech and Jan Hamacek (both CSSD), excused themselves, too.
The situation is not suitable for such a social event due to the Russian involvement in the crisis in Ukraine, Senate chairman Stech said.
Stech and Hamacek laid wreaths to the memorial to Soviet soldiers killed during the liberation of Czechoslovakia.
In the past several years, Czech presidents regularly attended the reception.
Czech politicians that arrived at the Russian reception today include former president Vaclav Klaus, Communist (KSCM) leader Vojtech Filip, former CSSD ministers Martin Pecina, Jan Kavan and Miroslav Gregr, former interim cabinet head Jiri Rusnok and Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar.
"I am not a person who makes gestures. As I was invited, I considered it well-mannered to come," CSSD lawmaker and former union leader Jaroslav Zavadil said.
KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs said the celebration of the defeat of Nazism should not be connected with Ukraine.
Both the Foreign Ministry and President Zeman criticised Moscow for its steps related to the developments in Ukraine. Prague did not recognise the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea by Russia.
Zaoralek said the present pro-Russian separatist outbursts in eastern Ukraine make it apparent that Moscow has been intervening in Ukraine.