published: 16.01.2014, 13:18 | updated: 16.01.2014 13:19:47
Moscow - Vladimir Remek handed his credentials to President Vladimir Putin today by which he officially assumed the post of Czech ambassador to Russia that was vacant from December 31, 2012, as from when his predecessor Petr Kolar was withdrawn at his own request.
Kolar, who took up the post in 2010, left diplomacy after he ended his ambassadorial mission.
Remek, 65, was until recently an MEP for the Communists (KSCM). He was replaced in the European Parliament on Wednesday by Vera Flasarova (for KSCM), 61, who will hold the mandate for the remaining several months. She was an MEP in 2004-09 already.
The Czech Foreign Ministry recently said it would like Remek to take up the ambassadorial post before the February opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and Czech President Milos Zeman's planned participation in a reception Putin will host on this occasion.
Remek has a long experience with Russia not only from the communist era, when he was a cosmonaut aboard a Soviet spaceship, but also from the post-communist era when he worked as a representative of Czech private companies and also as a commercial counsellor at the Czech embassy in Moscow for many years.
Remek's appointment as ambassador was pushed through by Zeman, a former Social Democrat prime minister, against the will of previous foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and only after his departure in summer 2013.
Remek is the first and only Czechoslovak cosmonaut. He flew to space on a Soviet spacecraft with a Soviet cosmonaut on March 2, 1978. He became the first cosmonaut of neither Soviet nor U.S. origin.
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