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Reflex: ANO head hard to be fought with democratic principles

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Prague, May 25 (CTK) – Former Czech finance minister Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO movement, and communism are difficult to fight with the means of parliamentary democracy, Bohumil Pecinka writes in weekly Reflex out yesterday.

He is commenting on the recent government crisis, which has ended with Babis’s replacement by his party colleague Ivan Pilny on Wednesday. But the political crisis is not yet over, Pecinka writes.

He writes that it is hidden in a political line that can be called Babisism.

Babis was dismissed on Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats, CSSD) proposal due to suspected tax evasion and the misuse of the media he owned. He has rejected any wrongdoing.

Babis first said he will not leave the government and that he will rather be killed. His hard stance was supported by President Milos Zeman, Pecinka writes.

However, Babis was eventually scared by a demonstration in Prague’s downtown Wenceslas Square and the hostile sentiment that developed against him, to which he was not accustomed, Pecinka writes.

That is why he elegantly cut off himself from his ally Zeman and has kept his party’s influence at the finance and justice ministries, he adds.

Babis was replaced by Ivan Pilny (ANO). The Justice Ministry is headed by Robert Pelikan (ANO).

Yet, Sobotka’s revolution has ended half-way because the goal was to get Babis’s whole movement from the government and open certain things at the finance and justice ministries, Pecinka writes.

He writes that Sobotka mainly wanted Babis’s untaxed one-crown bonds to be investigated by the Financial Administration that falls under the Finance Ministry and send a signal to state attorneys that their privileged position is over, Pecinka writes.

However, this pattern was interfered with by the case of Czech Football Association (FACR) head Miroslav Pelta, which was most probably artificially accelerated, Pecinka writes.

Pelta and some other people have been taken into custody.

The High State Attorney’s Office threw Babis a life belt, which was to help him divert attention from his own scandals, Pecinka writes.

But Education, Youth and Sports Minister Katerina Valachova (CSSD) very quickly took over responsibility for her deputy, involved in the FACR subsidies abuse, and said she will resign as from the end of May, Pecinka writes.

This took the wind out of Babis’s sails and when audio recordings featuring Babis and a journalist from the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), which he owned, in which they talked about the discrediting of their political rivals, it was clear that the matter starts to assume an international dimension, Pecinka writes.

Some European circles consider Babisism a threat to the Central European stability, Pecinka writes.

He writes that the political right criticised Sobotka, asking him why he is only taking steps against Babis after three and a half years of common rule.

The coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) was formed in January 2014.

Pecinka writes that Sobotka’s strategic goal on entering the government was to push through the CSSD programme and to neutralise Babis’s influence. He succeeded in the first issue, but he overestimated his forces in the other.

Sobotka has simply realised that Babisism is not based on any ideology, but on something lying between power and gangsterism. This is particularly dangerous in coalition with the tops of the state attorney’s office, which want to push through a law that would give them more powers with Babis’s support, Pecinka writes.

This seems to be the sole explanation of the drawn-out investigation of the case of the Capi hnizdo (Stork Next) recreation and congress centre, in which Babis is suspected of abuse of European subsidies and other cases while investigation is underway into Pelta’s lobbying for 25 subsidies for football stadiums, Pecinka writes.

Sobotka may have uncovered these things too late, but he has stood up against them. When Babis’s current supporters are spitting at their chief and demonstratively dissociating themselves from him, Sobotka will be able to say that unlike them, he knew about this and that he tried to do something against it, Pecinka writes.

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