Prague, Aug 26 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman, who has controversially challenged the police request for the release of MP and billionaire ANO leader Andrej Babis for prosecution, did so to show that he is an ally Babis can rely on, Josef Koukal writes in daily Pravo today.
Zeman and Babis politically need each other and they show support for each other openly and unashamed, Koukal writes.
In his one-man TV show on Thursday, Zeman accused the police of staging a provocation by asking the Chamber of Deputies to release Babis and ANO deputies’ group chairman Jaroslav Faltynek for prosecution on suspicion of a subsidy fraud connected with Babis’s Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm and congress complex, Koukal writes.
Zeman said he considers the police request expedient and motivated by the nearing general election, Koukal writes, adding that Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) commented on the request similarly.
Zeman, the head of state, not only knows clearly the result of the police investigation of the Capi hnizdo case beforehand, but he has also repeatedly drawn parallels between the case and the Budisov case, within which Social Democrat official Vera Jourova (now EU commissioner nominated by ANO) was prosecuted in the mid-2000s, a prosecution that eventually turned out to be unrightful.
“The Capi hnizdo case will be something similar,” Zeman said during his recent visit to Babis’s luxurious complex.
He not only declared his readiness to appoint Babis prime minister, if he wins elections, regardless of whether he faces prosecution. Now Zeman even does not hesitate to challenge the independence of the law enforcement bodies as a gesture in support of Babis, Koukal writes.
Zeman’s latest gesture reminds his move in May, when he challenged the Czech constitution in an effort to back Babis’s rocking seat of deputy PM and finance minister during a government crisis, Koukal writes.
Zeman and Babis’s mutual support have become open and unashamed now. The two politicians are confined to each other, their ambitions in the nearest period mingle with each other, Koukal continues.
For Babis, whose ANO is a clear favourite in the October 20-21 general election but has been shunned by potential partners, Zeman guarantees his appointment as prime minister in case of ANO’s victory. Babis is sure of Zeman appointing him prime minister regardless of possible strong criminal suspicions surrounding him and of his ANO’s narrowest possible election victory, Koukal writes.
In addition, by keeping Jiri Rusnok’s interim cabinet of his own nominees afloat for long months in 2013, Zeman showed that a cabinet can govern even without parliament voting confidence in it, Koukal writes.
Zeman, who will seek re-election as president in the direct polls in January, faces a serious rival candidate, former Sciences Academy head Jiri Drahos. That is why he may welcome his own candidacy being supported by the popular ANO movement, especially in the situation where ANO is headed by Babis, a man with practically unlimited financial resources, Koukal writes.
In this situation, Zeman has cast aside the self-restraint which every politician should show in commenting on sensitive open criminal cases, Koukal writes.
On Thursday, Zeman did not alert the public against the police acting on a political order. In fact he wanted to assure Babis of being a reliable partner of his, Koukal concludes.