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Speaker under fire for musical merrymaking

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By Agence France-Presse

Czech parliamentary speaker Radek Vondracek found himself in hot water on Thursday after Czech media published photos of him standing on the speaker’s table in parliament playing the guitar and grinning, apparently after a few drinks.

Vondracek, a member of the governing ANO movement of billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, teamed up to play guitar with another ANO member after the populist party won a general election in 2017.

The pictures which immediately went viral on social networks, led the opposition to call for Vondracek to step down as speaker, the third most powerful position in the country after the prime minister and president.

“If I hurt someone’s feelings, if they take it as a sacrilege, rather than as a bit of fun making the premises more human, then I’m terribly sorry and I apologise,” Vondracek told the Frekvence 1 radio station.

When the three photos appeared on Thursday morning, Vondracek initially said he was “proud” of his performance, which included three songs, and that he would love to do it again.

But he soon backed down and took a more apologetic tone amid the uproar, insisting the incident had taken place before he became parliament speaker.

The populist ANO leads a minority coalition government with the leftwing Social Democrats, which relies on backing from the Communist party to swing a majority in parliament.

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