Babis Calls Conflict Of Interest Claim ‘Attack On Czech Republic’ As Protests RagePetr Dubinsky
In the most significant demonstrations in the Czech Republic since the 1989 Velvet Revolution, protesters are demanding Prime Minister Babis’s resignation. Applause rang out as speakers demanded Prime Minister Babis resign.
The protests have been nonstop since April when police recommended that Mr. Babis be charged with EU subsidy fraud. The day after the police recommendation, the then justice minister who holds vast powers in the prosecution service resigned, sparking protests by citizens worried that a change in the ministry could lead to a coverup in Babis’ case.
Protests have taken place every week since then. Mr. Babis’s problems were compounded last week, following the leak of the European Commissions findings that he has a conflict of interest while in office because of continuing ties to his company, Agrofert. However, the audit whose decisions can still be modified determined that Babis has a direct financial interest in the Agrofert, in addition to being actively engaged in the execution of the EU funding in the Czech Republic in his role in government. Mr. Babis strongly rejected the opinion, and insisted that he had not violated any laws and that the report was”dubious” and an”attack on the Czech Republic” and insisted that no EU funds would be returned by Agrofert.
Many are skeptical that the furor will undermine Babis’ grip on power. His ANO party emerged as the largest grouping From last month’s European elections, and Mr. Babis remains the nation’s most popular politician. On top of this, the Social Democrats, the junior partner in Mr. Babis’s Minority government, have little incentive to abandon him and he also has support from the communists and Tomio Okamura’s far-right SPD.