President hands out state decorations

President Zeman awarded state decorations to 29 personalities on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day on Monday night. The philosopher Erazim Kohák and playwright, actor and songwriter Jiří Suchý received the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Mararyk; the Medal of Merit, meanwhile, was awarded to opera singer Soňa Červená, communist-era businessman František Čuba, actress Jiřina Bohdalová, former athlete Jarmila Kratochvílová, and others. Several of the recipients supported Mr Zeman in his presidential bid, or ran on the ballot of his party in the weekend’s elections. The awards ceremony was marked by controversy as several dozen officials, including most university rectors, boycotted the event over their disagreement with some of the president’s recent decisions.