Pro-Russian president Zeman leads in Czech vote: partial results

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Pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman had a handsome lead in Saturday's presidential election and looked set for a run-off against pro-European Jiri Drahos on January 26-27, partial results showed.

Zeman got 41.11 percent of the ballot after 69.33 percent of votes were counted, while Drahos garnered 25.45, the Czech Statistics Office said.

Seven other candidates candiates got between 10 and 0.43 percent.

A recent poll for Czech Television showed the tide could turn in round two, with a possible win for Drahos with 48.5 percent of votes in the second round against 44 percent for Zeman.

As he voted in Prague on Friday, Zeman was targeted by a bare-breasted anti-Kremlin protester who called him "Putin's slut", referring to Russia's president.

Ironically, experts say the move might boost Zeman's chances, judging by an outpouring of sympathy for him on social media.

Headlines like "Attack on Zeman" and "A scandalous incident" were splashed across the front pages of Saturday newspapers.

Zeman's rhetoric echoes populist-minded eastern EU leaders -- especially in Hungary and Poland -- at odds with Brussels over mandatory refugee quotas and other rules they see as breaching national sovereignty.

He is also stridently anti-Muslim, having once called the 2015 migrant crisis "an organised invasion" of Europe and insisted Muslims were "impossible to integrate".

© 2018 AFP

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