Czech prime minister facing pressure to step down over his son´s kidnap claim | Eurasia Diary -

27 May, Monday

Czech prime minister facing pressure to step down over his son´s kidnap claim

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Czech prime minister Andrej Babis is coming under intense pressure to resign from both the opposition and the public, after his son Andrej Babis junior claimed his father kidnapped and held him captive in the Crimea to prevent him from testifying in a corruption case. The leaders of six opposition parties with 92 votes between them have been pushing for a no-confidence vote in the government. The public is due to assembled in a protest against the prime minister on November 15.

Babis is facing a crisis that could lose him his job after journalists from tracked down his son and interviewed him in connection with the so-called Storks Nest corruption case last week. Babis ignorance and says he does not see any reason why he should resign. He has claimed that his son is mentally ill and strong medication, although the extent of the mental health problems of his son have been disputed.

Babis met with political leaders on November 14 to explain his son’s testimony, including his junior coalition partner Social Democrat chairman Jan Hamacek (CSDD), Communist chairman Vojtech Filip and the leader of neo-fascist Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) Tomio Okamura.

"It is important that he [the prime minister] is able to tell the public all the facts. The more he says, the better," the Social Democrats said. The issue of Babis’s resignation is not currently a subject of talks, they added. They will meet again on November 15.

Okamura who together with other five opposition parties actively called for no-confidence vote a day earlier, calmed his attitude and offered to replace the Social Democrats in the ruling coalition with SPD program. "I immediately used the opportunity because I can see there is some tension in the government," Okamura said.

Once the proposal for SPD to enter the government did not come from ANO, Okamura claimed that SPD could not join the government coalition with someone connected to unresolved cases. However, he suggested that the SPD program could be implemented by the government of experts proposed by ANO. Okamura agreed on meeting again with Babis next week.

More than 50% of the Czech citizens believe that the report that broke the story is credible, according to survey from the Median Agency, the Czech News Agency reported on November 14. They believe the prime minister has been trying to prevent his son from giving the evidence in the so-called Storks Nest case where Babis is accused of abusing his office by misappropriating EU funds for the benefit of one of his companies. Exactly half of those surveyed also expressed confidence in information that Andrej Babis junior signed the documents related to the Stork Nest centre without knowing what he was signing.

Babis called report a manipulation. “To film a mentally-ill man, secretly and in this way, that is heinous and revolting. This entire campaign is only aimed at putting pressure on the investigators in the Stork Nest case. It is also used by the opposition,” Babis said in his statement.

The prime minister added he wonders who gave the journalists information about his son's residence. "I do not know if you realize that but the Stork Nest case is a living file," he said, indicating that the information has been apparently leaked.

The Russian Rosbalt news agency reported, citing the Czech opposition, that “a holiday stay” of the prime minister’s son in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula probably could not take place without the direct involvement of Russian intelligence agencies, Hospodarske Noviny wrote on November 13.

Babis was charged with fraud last year in the Stork Nest case centred on a €2.3mn EU subsidy obtained a decade ago when the government decided to finally lift his immunity. Back in 2016 the prime minister said that the Stork Nest hotel and conference centre outside Prague was owned by his adult children and his brother-in-law when the subsidy was approved.

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