Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Play mocking Deputy PM Babiš premieres in Prague

19 May 2017

Prague, May 18 (CTK) - Political comedy Red Kukis (Cerveny Kukis), which is apparently mocking the Czech Deputy PM, outgoing Finance Minister, ANO chairman and billionaire businessman, Andrej Babis, premiered in a little theatre in Prague last night.

Its main protagonist, Ondrej Kukis, is a rich industrialist who becomes a politician, first a prime minister, then a president and at the end maybe even a Czech king.

Other well-known personalities from the Czech political scene and society also appear in the play, but with slightly changed names.

Kukis is dressed in a red coat with a hood and a mask covering his face. Prague Castle, the seat of presidents and previously kings, is slowly covered in red towards the end of the play, while the red colour still evokes the communist regime.

Babis, who came from a prominent Slovak communist family, was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSCM) before the 1989 collapse of communism.

In the play, Kukis explains subsidies for his house dubbed "Fox's Den" and how in his youth he reported to the authorities what other people were doing.

The former episode hints at Babis's scandal with a suspected unauthorised drawing of an EU subsidy for the Capi Hnizdo (Stork Nest) luxurious resort built for the Agrofert Holding. He owned the concern, including several media outlets, until February when he transferred it to trustee funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

The other scene may refer to Babis's alleged cooperation with the communist secret police (StB). Slovak courts ruled in the past that he had been listed as an StB agent unjustly, but the Constitutional Court will now examine the verdicts.

Kukis says on the stage that he decided to run in elections "to be able to make the country better," which is a paraphrase of Babis's own statements.

Babis's ANO movement has long led popularity polls and is expected to win the October general election.

Part of the theatre play is set in a TV discussion programme that mocks the real Sunday political debate, the Questions of Vaclav Moravec, on public Czech Television (CT).

Kukis is elected president and at the end he steals the crown jewels to become a Czech king.

The narrator of the story concludes on the stage that the theft of the crown jewels remains unresolved and says if people keep supporting their president (Kukis), his child dream to become a king will certainly be fulfilled. "He has enough time, you, too, can help him achieve this," he adds.

After these words, Kukis grasps him from behind with his giant claws, which is accompanied by blood-curdling music and shouting.

The play that accentuates usurping control over the media, economic relations as well as people was written by Milan Deutsch and Ivo Sorman, who also directed the performance.

During rehearsals, the project organisers gradually lost some sponsors and media partners. Deutsch told CTK previously that the actresses performing in the play had expressed fears.

The play was inspired by real life, mainly by dissatisfaction with "the absurdity of the current political situation," Deutsch said.

This week, Babis decided to accept Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's demand that he leave the cabinet due to his suspected tax evasion and use of media against his political rivals. However, Babis has always dismissed any wrong-doing.

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