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Under fresh scrutiny, Czech PM Babis faces renewed pressure from the streets

Prague, Czech Republic – Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to call for the resignation of Czech PM Andrej Babis, under renewed judicial scrutiny from both EU and domestic investigators.

Czechs take to the streets to step up pressure against PM

On Tuesday evening, some 50,000 Czechs gathered on Wenceslas Square – or between 60,000 and 80,000, according to the organizers – to call for the billionaire Premier to step down amid growing allegations of conflict of interest and subsidy fraud.

Organized by civic association ‘Million Moments for Democracy’, the protest follows the release of a damning EU report, as well as the reopening by the top state prosecutor of a domestic investigation into alleged EU subsidy fraud.

“A liar under investigation has no business being in the post of Prime Minister”, Benjamin Roll from Million Moments for Democracy told the crowd of protesters.

“We can’t have a man with a conflict of interest at the head of the government, managing the entire society with his incredible powers and arrogance, protester Zuzana Pelantova told AFP.

protest-prague
Credit: Milion chvilek pro democracii

Czech PM Babis under pressure EU and domestic judicial cases

Last week, an audit conducted by the European Commission and leaked in Czech media showed that EU investigators considered Andrej Babis, the second richest man in the country according to Forbes, was in a situation of conflict of interest due to his ties to Agrofert, the giant business conglomerate comprising over 200 companies which he founded in the 1990s.

The Czech PM, who transferred his ownership of Agrofert into separate trust funds in 2017 to comply with new anti-graft legislation, has always denied any wrongdoing.

But the leader of the ruling ANO party, which retains a comfortable lead in the polls, also faces fresh scrutiny at home. Last week, the top state prosecutor Pavel Zeman overruled a previous decision from Prague prosecutors and reopened the investigation into the so-called ‘Stork’s Nest’ affair, in which Babis is suspected of having fraudulently obtained around €2 million in EU funds back in 2007.

‘Million Moments for Democracy’, a civic grouping founded by students that has been at the forefront of the biggest protests organized in the Czech Republic since the Velvet Revolution, announced another protest should take place in Prague next Tuesday, December 17.

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