Prague, April 17 (CTK) – The Czech opposition mentioned PM Andrej Babis’s pressure on Michal Murin in reaction to his announced resignation as head of the security corps inspection (GIBS) on Tuesday, and criticised what it called personnel purges the cabinet has been pursuing in spite of its caretaker status.
Opposition politicians also showed interest in who would succeed Murin at the head of the GIBS.
“It seems that Andrej Babis’s pressure on GIBS director Michal Murin has been a success. Unfortunately. Whose turn is it now?” Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Petr Fiala tweeted.
Pirates chairman Ivan Bartos wrote that he respects Murin’s decision to resign.
“A different thing is the activity of Prime Minister Babis that was clearly aimed to remove Mr Murin from his post. The caretaker prime minister’s steps towards his elimination were evident,” Bartos wrote.
“For a long time we have been watching the PM’s pressure for the replacement of the staff in a number of institutions, accompanied by political and media pressure combined with vague explanations. Not only the Pirates but also the public rightfully asks whether these personnel purges are merely expedient steps to strengthen the position of ANO and install allied people in crucial posts in the state administration and independent institutions,” Bartos added.
TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil said there was no matter-of-fact reason for Murin to leave.
“GIBS chief Murin has obviously succumbed to the power pressure exerted on him by Andrej Babis, evidently not stemming from facts but from [Babis’s] effort to control all security corps, including the GIBS, now that the caretaker prime minister himself faces prosecution,” Pospisil wrote, mentioning a suspected EU subsidy fraud involving a company owned by Babis.
Social Democrat (CSSD) deputies’ group deputy chairwoman Katerina Valachova said the crucial thing is that the lower house commission for the supervision of the GIBS start working appropriately.
“We would not play a judge of the situation of the present GIBS head,” Valachova said, adding that the commission is needed to unblock the situation and the CSSD will focus on launching its operation.
The CSSD wants to support the opposition’s candidate for the vacated post, who would have a chance of being elected, Valachova said.
Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) deputies’ group chairman Radim Fiala said he can see no reason to react to Murin’s departure hysterically.
“We have certain information from the [lower house] security committee on doubts surrounding the work of Murin and the GIBS,” Fiala said.
He said an independent expert should be chosen to replace Murin.
Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) MP Marek Vyborny said he would like to know the motive of Murin’s resignation. “If it is his reaction to Andrej Babis’s pressure, we consider it unacceptable,” he said.
A prime minister who does not have parliament’s confidence should not force out personnel changes in police control bodies, especially in a situation where he faces prosecution, Vyborny said.
Mayors and Independents (STAN) deputy chairman Vit Rakusan told reporters that he is watching the developments around Murin with embarrassment and apprehensions.
The pressure on Murin was enormous, and it is no wonder that he recently ended up in hospital and the circumstances forced him to resign, Rakusan said, speaking about a bitter impression the affair gives to “everyone with a democratic spirit.”
He said he would like Murin’s successor to be a person acceptable to parties across the political spectrum.
Murin, 55, who has headed the GIBS since 2016, announced his departure for the civilian sector on Tuesday. He said his remaining in the post could lead to challenging the GIBS’s work results.
In March, Murin said Babis had repeatedly exerted pressure on him to quit as the GIBS head. Babis denied this, but he subsequently started criticising Murin in public and launched disciplinary proceedings against him. He said he does not trust Murin as GIBS head and challenged the GIBS’s financial management.
Babis’s ANO minority government lost a vote of confidence in January and continues ruling pending the establishment of its successor.