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Thursday, June 13, 2024

From what nest has Věra Jourová fluttered to us?

By: Dr Damjan Prelovšek

Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Values and Transparency in Ursula von der Leyen’s team, Věra Jourová, has significantly contributed to the de-Janšafication of Slovenian media through her interference with the work of the Constitutional Court. This is a well-known story, but her background is more interesting. Jourová is not just anyone; she is closely connected to the former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, who has not yet said his last word on the political scene and has considerable chances for re-election. Before heading to Brussels, she was the vice-president of his party, ANO (meaning “Yes”, initially a party of dissatisfied citizens), founded in 2011, and with his help, she also rose to the commissioner’s position in Brussels. Both have considerable skeletons in their closets. In 2006, Jourová was even briefly imprisoned due to her involvement in the Budišov affair, but they failed to prove her corrupt activities.

Seventy-year-old Babiš was born in Slovakia to a communist family of a state security employee. Documents also mention him under the codename Bureš, noting that he joined the organisation voluntarily. However, his guilt has not been unequivocally proven everywhere so far. As a promising young graduate of the University of Economics in Bratislava, he was sent by the party authorities to Morocco in 1985 to represent the Slovak company Petrimex. Eight years later, he founded the subsidiary company Agrofert with three partners, soon becoming its sole owner. The company operated in the food sector, mainly trading in fertilizers and chemicals, as its name suggests. Some sources claim that it is not far from there to marijuana and hashish, which Moroccan growers and main suppliers to Europe produce. Either way, Babiš became extremely wealthy in Morocco, while the supervisory state authorities looked the other way because he must have been useful to them. We know similar stories from our party times. Babiš’s Moroccan beginnings are linked to his fellow countryman of the same age, Peter Kovarčík, who graduated from the same school and went to Morocco with him. Later, he carelessly boasted to journalists that he and Babiš carried money in suitcases to Swiss banks. The deserved punishment was not long in coming. In 2015, he suffered a fatal slip while bathing. We know the method well from films about the Sicilian mafia.

BABIŠ BECAME EXTREMELY WEALTHY IN MOROCCO, WHILE THE SUPERVISORY STATE AUTHORITIES LOOKED THE OTHER WAY BECAUSE HE MUST HAVE BEEN USEFUL TO THEM.

The main transgression of Babiš is the tourist resort Čapí hnízdo (Stork’s Nest) in Bzenec near Hodonín in the south of the Czech Republic. He allegedly embezzled European funds for it, and to avoid prosecution, he transferred everything to his son Andrej from his first marriage, who is a Swiss citizen and a civil pilot by profession. Then, he managed to have psychiatrists declare him mentally incompetent, diagnosing him as schizophrenic with signs of paranoia and a sense of persecution. This case involves several distasteful elements, including the psychiatrist who initiated the process being on Babiš’s payroll. The story of the abduction and deportation of Babiš Jr. to Crimea and Ukraine, where he was taken by an employee of Agrofert, reads like a tense crime novel. After various complications, Swiss psychiatrists dismissed all charges Babiš Sr. constructed against his own son, and in 2019, Czech justice also cleared Babiš Jr. of any guilt. However, there are still numerous scandals at Čapí hnízdo, indicating conflicts of interest, such as the case involving biofuels.

When Babiš became Prime Minister, one of his first state visits in December 2018 understandably led him to Morocco. The official part of the visit in the morning was followed by an unofficial evening meeting with selected businessmen. Moroccan French citizen Ahmed Bahdou claims that he organised this meeting, while Babiš asserts that he does not know Bahdou at all. Coincidentally, Czech arms dealer Michal Strnad arrived in Morocco on another flight at the same time. The Czech embassy in Rabat was also involved in the matter, illegally selling Schengen visas to pay Bahdou for his intermediary services. However, that is another story for another time. I have spoken to Babiš only once in Kutná Hora during the signing of his book O čem sním, když náhodou spím (What I Dream About When I Accidentally Sleep). In it, he firmly advocates for justice and promises a fierce fight against corruption. This is also something we are familiar with in the Slovenian political landscape, is it not? Since the matter is extremely delicate and I would not want to prematurely bid farewell to this world, I clarify that the entire narrative is based on publicly accessible internet sources (mostly Czech), deposited in the editorial office of Demokracija.

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