Czech President Milos Zeman


STAN Senators To Sue Zeman For Treason Over Novichok Claims

Andrej Babiš, ANO, CSSD, Miloš Zeman, Novichok

Prague, May 17 (CTK) – Czech senators for the Mayors and Independents (STAN) will prepare documents enabling to sue President Milos Zeman for treason over his words about the production of the Novichok nerve agent in the Czech Republic, which endangered people’s security, Jiri Sestak said today.


Sestak, head of the STAN senators’ group, was speaking to journalists.


The STAN’s plan has been backed by the Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) senators, while the Civic Democrats (ODS), another party critical of Zeman, reacted with reserve.


Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek called the STAN’s plan a threat to democracy.


In early May, Zeman said, referring to the Military Intelligence Service (VZ), that Novichok was produced in the Czech Republic last year. According to the civilian counter-intelligence service (BIS), no Novichok was produced in the country, Zeman continued, but added that he prefers sharing the VZ’s opinion.


Moscow used Zeman’s statements to challenge London’s assertion that the Novichok substance, with which former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was poisoned in Britain in March, came from Russia.


Sestak said as a result of Zeman’s statements, a potential enemy or terrorist organisation know now what Czech chemical warfare forces have been preparing for, what scenarios and what substances they are prepared for and what not.


The STAN group has 12 members in the 81-seat Senate, the upper house of parliament. A proposal for a constitutional lawsuit can be submitted by at least one third (27) of senators. The groups of the ODS and the KDU-CSL have 10 and 16 members, respectively.


“That is why we have decided to launch the preparation of documents that would be checked in cooperation with constitutional lawyers and then lead to accusing the president of treason,” Sestak said.


KDU-CSL senators’ group head Petr Silar said the group will support the STAN’s proposal, which it considers correct, meaningful and necessary.


ODS group chairman Jiri Oberfalzer, on his part, said everything Zeman does are political and extremely provocative acts but none of them can be called treason.


“That is why we approach the [STAN] proposal with reserve,” he said.


In reaction to Sestak, Ovcacek said the STAN senators’ plan is an attack on Zeman.


“By their another attack on the directly elected president, the STAN extremists threaten democracy and freedom in the Czech Republic,” Ovcacek tweeted.


STAN is a centre-right movement initiated by town mayors and independent personalities in 2009 and popular mainly on the municipal level. It has also representatives in the Chamber of Deputies.


Zeman is the first Czech president to be elected directly by people in 2013 and again this January.


To be accepted, a proposed lawsuit against the president needs support from at least three fifths of the senators attending the session, which is 49 if all 81 senators are present.


Afterwards, it would need approval from at least three fifths (120) of the lower house’s 200 members.


On Wednesday, the Senate committee for foreign affairs, defence and security said in a resolution that Zeman had presented untrue information on the production of Novichok in the Czech Republic. Secret services share the view that Novichok was never produced or stored in the Czech Republic, the committee stated.


It said Zeman threatened the country’s security interests by releasing other data that security services provided to him.


Commenting on the STAN’s plan, the committee chairman Frantisek Bublan (for the Social Democrats, CSSD) said today the process of suing the president for treason is difficult and lengthy and that he personally does not support the plan. The case would sharply divide Czech society, Bublan said.