Communists Overrule Planned Debate On Zeman’s Novichok Lies

Andrej Babiš, Corruption, Miloš Zeman, Novichok, Russian Influence

Prague, May 22 (CTK) – The Czech Chamber of Deputies will not discuss the case of Novichok’s presence in the country at the current plenary session in reaction to President Milos Zeman’s words, since the issue has been withdrawn from the session agenda at the initiative of the Communists (KSCM).


In the vote on the programme, KSCM MP Leo Luzar’s proposal to delete the issue from the agenda was supported by deputies for the KSCM, except for Jiri Dolejs, and also the deputies for the ANO movement, except for lower house chairman Radek Vondracek, and the deputies for the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement.


It was also supported by Jaroslav Foldyna, one of the 15 deputies for the Social Democrats (CSSD).


“It is not Czech parliament’s task to assess steps taken by a directly elected president,” Luzar said, adding that the KSCM is opposed to disgracing the president.


The right-wing opposition has called for an extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies to be convoked to discuss the Novichok issue.


TOP 09 deputies’ group chairman Miroslav Kalousek said TOP 09 will start collecting signatures in support of a special session. At least 40 deputies’ signatures are needed for an extraordinary session to be convoked.


The other rightist opposition parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), backed TOP 09’s initiative.


KDU-CSL deputies’ group head Jan Bartosek said the KSCM has been implementing the Kremlin’s programme. He reproached the lawmakers of ANO, which is the strongest of the nine parties in the lower house, for behaving like a horse trader and failing to defend the country’s interests.


The ODS, the KDU-CSL and TOP 09 together have 42 seats in the 200-seat lower house.


Bartosek and ODS deputies’ group chairman Zbynek Stanjura warned the CSSD against forming a government coalition with ANO.


“It has turned out that when at a loss, ANO tends to ally with the Communists and the SPD,” Bartosek said, adding that ANO would behave in the same way even as the government partner of the CSSD.


According to Stanjura, ANO continues cooperating with the [extremist] KSCM and SPD [despite having pledged loyalty to the CSSD as a partner in the nascent coalition government].


“If you believe that this will change one day, it really will not in the current election term,” Stanjura told the CSSD.


“The voting coalition of ANO, the SPD and the KSCM goes on,” TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil has tweeted, alluding to previous joint votes of the three parties, which together command 115 votes.


Mayors and Independents (STAN) deputies’ group deputy chairman Vit Rakusan told journalists that the KSCM, which is expected to keep a possible ANO-CSSD minority government afloat in parliament, would not be merely a supportive party but a coalition party pursuing its own interests.


Similarly, Fiala said it is turning out that in the “crucial question of our security and foreign policy, the Communists can decide on what the Chamber of Deputies will deal with.”


In early May, Zeman said on television, citing the Military Intelligence Service (VZ), that Novichok, a nerve-paralysing substance, was produced in the Czech Republic last year. He said the counter-intelligence service (BIS) said no Novichok had been produced in the country but that he preferred sharing the VZ’s view.


Moscow used Zeman’s words to challenge London’s assertion that Novichok, with which former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Britain in March, came from Russia.


Zeman’s words about the Czech production of Novichok were subsequently dismissed by PM Andrej Babis (ANO), the lower house’s foreign committee and the upper house’s security and foreign committee. Based on secret services’ reports, which, they said, do not differ on the Novichok presence, they stated that Novichok had been neither produced nor stored in the Czech Republic.


The Senate committee stated that Zeman released untrue information about the Czech production of Novichok, by which he jeopardised Czech security interests.


Senators for the Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement announced that they will prepare documents enabling to file a constitutional lawsuit against Zeman on suspicion of treason.