Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is facing a potential political crisis that could cost him his job, after his son Andrej Babis junior claimed he was lured to Crimea to stop him giving evidence in an alleged criminal fraud case known as Stork's Nest, news server Seznam reported on November 12. Two investigative reporters at the media outlet said they spent a year tracking down Babis junior to his current address in Switzerland.
Babis junior sensationally claimed that he was abducted and detained in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula so he would be unable to testify as a witness in the fraud investigation in which his father faces damaging accusations.
He claimed he was forced to decide between “taking an extended holiday” in Crimea or being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. In Crimea he claims to have been forcibly held by two Russians, one of whom was a psychiatrist who previously looked after him during his stay in a Prague mental hospital.
Babis rejected the kidnapping allegations, saying that his son is mentally ill, adding that he has been on medication and under observation. “It is not true that my son was kidnapped. He left the Czech Republic voluntarily. This matter has been investigated by the police, who came to the conclusion that no kidnapping had taken place,“ he added.
"It all seems to me to be quite a wild conspiracy. I have a regular meeting next week with Andrej Babis, so I will ask him, of course," Czech President Milos Zeman said. He also wished the prime minister strong nerves in the upcoming days.
Some 92 deputies representing six opposition parties threatened to call a parliamentary no-confidence vote in the prime minister's minority coalition government. The fate of a no-confidence motion thus depends on the coalition´s junior partner, the Social Democrats, who urged Babis to provide an explanation.
“In a normal country, in such a situation the prime minister would resign and wait how the investigation proceeded,“ Civic Democrat Party (ODS) chair Petr Fiala told Czech Television.
“Before, he could always say the whole thing was a plot and he had done nothing wrong. Now there’s a video that goes to the core of something emotional. Even if Czechs don’t believe the son, they see that there is something very wrong in the prime minister’s family,” New York University in Prague political analyst Jiri Pehe was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Both son and his billionaire father have been charged in the long-running investigation into allegations of €2mn in EU funds being falsely obtained by Stork’s Nest, a hotel and conference centre outside Prague. The official launch of an EU investigation into the 2008 grant piled pressure on the finance minister, who previously brushed off accusations of corruption with the confidence that comes from being the most trusted Czech politician.