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Sanctions may be lifted – Russian press after Czech election

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Moscow/Kiev, Oct 23 (CTK) – The pressure to lift sanctions against Russia will increase and Czech-EU relations may be complicated after ANO won the weekend election to the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Russian papers wrote on Monday.

Kommersant writes that the government of ANO leader Andrej Babis will cooperate with the eastern European countries dissatisfied with Brussels.

It points out that the ANO manifesto speaks about the effort to draft a new strategy of relations with Russia with a view to shoring up the security architecture in Europe and to contributing to the development of Czech-Russian relations.

“Since 2014, the ANO leader has been claiming that the sanctions against Moscow are inefficient. This October, he backed President Milos Zeman who proposed that Russia’s annexation of Crimea should be recognised, while Ukraine should be paid some compensation,” Kommersant said.

Rossiyskaya gazeta, too, stresses that Babis has often spoken about the necessity “to end the sanction war with Russia.”

ANO is a “centrist movement with elements of populism,” it adds.

Czechs’ disenchantment with the policy of mainstream parties is “obviously due to the ministers of Bohuslav Sobotka’s outgoing government being too dependent on Brussels,” the paper writes.

“This often did not correspond with the Czech Republic’s national interests or it even harmed them. Czechs are very sensitive to everything touching upon their sovereignty,” it adds.

“Sadness is again among European officials in Brussels,” the Vesti writes.

Judging by some statements made by Babis, whose views of the relations between Russia and the EU are identical with those of Zeman, the sanctions are useless and the topic of Crimea should be closed.

“Many things will be clear after Babis selects the coalition partners,” Vesti writes.

The server Politikus writes that the new balance of forces in the Czech Republic seriously angers Ukraine because Babis is well-known for his negative position on anti-Russian sanctions.

“In addition, he sharply criticises the EU dictate, being ready to fight against the enforced migrant crisis in the most radical way,” the server writes.

“At the moment there are many illegal Ukrainian migrants in the Czech Republic who will be driven out by the new ruling power as the first,” the server writes.

“They will be followed by legally employed migrants whose quotas have been often increased by Prague over Brussels. If Babis is ready to start a confrontation with the EU bigwigs over the migration question, Ukrainians will be driven out of the country as the victims of their own incompetent politicians as the first,” it adds.

Babis “quite consequentially” welcomes the Ukrainian labour force, the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform writes in its commentary.

“This is the approach of a businessman: since Ukrainians have helped us create 200,000 jobs, is there anything bad in this? They work well and we are interested in them,” it adds.

Babis has been evasive when it comes to the anti-Russian sanctions, but “he has evaluated correctly the annexation of Crimea, calling the events in Donbass an aggression,” Ukrinform writes.

Ukrainian ambassador to the Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis said the result of the Czech election should not be dramatised.

“The future government will continue with the support for bilaterally beneficial relations with Kiev and in the Ukrainian question, it will stay in the European mainstream,” Perebyinis said.

The future Czech policy “will not leave the EU policy mainstream,” he added.

The Ukrainian information agency League writes that for years, the Czech Republic was a model of democracy in the Visegrad Four (also Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), “but now its government may pose a new risk for the EU and Ukraine.”

Even if Babis fulfills his promise not to form a coalition with pro-Russian parties, the fact itself that a billionaire has gained control of the government in the country with such democratic traditions is bad, the League writes.

“An oligarch with a dubious past, facing fraud charges, may now become the prime minister,” it adds.

“This is a real challenge for the Czech democracy that can only disappear if Babis loses access to power,” the League said.

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