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Minister denies political background of Babiš’ prosecution

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Prague, Aug 25 (CTK) – Interior Minister Milan Chovanec rejects President Milos Zeman’s words that the police request to release two parliament members, Andrej Babis and Jaroslav Faltynek (both government ANO), for criminal prosecution before the Czech general election is a provocation, spokeswoman Lucie Novakova said today.

Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) is of the view that Zeman should turn to the Security Information Service (BIS) or ask for a meeting of the National Security Council, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Novakova said.

If Zeman questions the criminal proceedings without any reason, he harms the trust in the state and politics, she added, citing Chovanec’s words.

The police request is a police provocation and a deception of voters, Zeman told the Barrandov television station last night.

As the police are unlikely to solve the case in two months, the voters will either believe that Babis and Faltynek caused a subsidy fraud or that they fell victim to a political provocation, Zeman said in an interview broadcast by the TV station.

“If this was a quip, it was rather failed,” Chovanec said.

If Zeman has any doubts or evidence that there was any effort to frustrate the election, he should use his legal rights and turn to the BIS, asking it to check the suspicion and make clear conclusions, Chovanec said.

Zeman can also ask for a meeting of the National Security Council, presenting the evidence, asking its members to check it, he added.

The police delivered the request to have the two politicians released for prosecution to the Chamber of Deputies on August 10.

Billionaire Babis is the leader of the ANO movement, which is the favourite of the late October elections. Faltynek is ANO first deputy chairman. Babis was finance minister and deputy prime minister from January 2014 to May 2017.

Babis and Faltynek have been facing a criminal complaint over the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm and congress complex since the late 2015. In 2007-08, the Capi hnizdo firm was a part of Agrofert, a giant chemical, agricultural and food-processing concern, of which Babis is the sole owner, though his ownership is not direct anymore. Afterwards, the firm’s owner changed through a chain of transactions that made the new owner hard to identify. Then it gained a 50-million-crown EU subsidy designed for small firms, which it could never gain as part of Agrofert. A few years later, it rejoined Agrofert.

Faltynek was a top manager in Agrofert.


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