Prague, May 7 (CTK) – Czech Deputy PM, Finance Minister and ANO movement chairman Andrej Babis did not turn up at a debate of the parliamentary parties’ leaders broadcast by Czech Television (CT) today, and he explained on Facebook that the five leaders and the CT moderator would all stand against him in the debate.

He wrote he does not cling to his ministerial post but would not give up his struggle against his political opponents.

The moderator, Vaclav Moravec, said CT had invited Babis to attend the debate but obtained no clear answer from him by Friday.

Prime Minister and Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka, who proposed Babis’s dismissal to President Milos Zeman on Friday, citing Babis’s dubious business deals and suspected influencing of media, said Babis’s absence amounted to cowardice.

Babis, who is also a deputy PM, had been invited to the Sunday live-transmitted debate together with Sobotka, Deputy PM and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek, and the chairmen of three opposition parties, Vojtech Filip (Communists, KSCM), Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) and Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats, ODS).

“What would I do there together with them? Why should I let them endlessly repeat the same lies that they are repeating without wanting to hear [my] response?” Babis wrote on Facebook.

Belobradek said Babis’s absence from the debate is a part of his tactic aimed to marginalise serious things he should explain.

“I think he fears being faced with arguments,” Belobradek told journalists after the debate.

Babis also wrote on Facebook that he has listened to the audio recordings in which he discusses planned media articles about his political rivals with a journalist and which appeared on the Internet earlier this week.

He wrote he has recognised having made a mistake and that he should not have met the journalist.

“It was a provocation organised beforehand. I failed to cope with it,” Babis admitted but emphasised that he did not task anyone.

On Friday, Babis filed a criminal complaint over the recordings and indicated that Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) is behind them.

Sobotka said on Prima TV earlier today that it is up to the police to investigate who made the recordings.