Russia-friendly Czech president faces pro-EU rival in run-off

Czech presidential candidate Jiri Drahos looks on at his headquarters after polling stations closed for the country's direct presidential election in Prague the Czech Republic

The two rivals are sharp contrasts to one another, with softly spoken and cerebral Mr Drahos at odds with Mr Zeman, who drinks and smokes heavily and has been known to pepper debates with colourful language.

Incumbent MiloŇ° Zeman's team will provide details on Tuesday regarding television debates ahead of the second round of voting in the Czech presidential elections, his spokesman said.

Many voters who chose one of the other seven candidates are likely to switch their allegiance to Mr Drahos in the second round.

After their failure to advance from the first round became apparent on Saturday afternoon, diplomat Pavel Fischer (10.2 percent in first round), entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horacek (9.2 percent), physicist and university teacher Marek Hilser (8.8 percent) and former prime minister Mirek Topolanek (5.3 percent) expressed their support for Drahos before the runoff. Drahos called on all those "who want a change" to cast ballots in the runoff.

Zeman won 38.6 percent of the vote and Drahos 26.6 percent in the first round of the election.

Mr Drahos, 68, is seen as more western-oriented.

Czech presidents wield limited executive powers but from their office in Prague Castle they appoint prime ministers and represent the nation overseas.

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The president also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament's upper house.

Zeman, 73, was elected in 2013 during the country's first direct presidential vote, a victory that returned the former left-leaning prime minister to power.

As well as the support of the Communists, Mr Zeman can also boast the backing of the far-right SPD party. He has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and his support for closer ties with China. He also has voiced support for Mr Trump's plan to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In recent years, however, he has used every opportunity to attack the European Union and has proposed a referendum on the country's membership in the bloc after Britain chose to leave.

Mr Drahos, a pro-European academic, has been forthright in his opposition to the president, saying: "We say in Czech that "the fish stinks from the head" and that perfectly sums up Mr Zeman's term".

He says he is anxious about the rise of extremism and populism.

Late past year, however, the BIS said it had no specific information that foreign agents were meddling in Czech elections.

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