Kremlin Connections: Andrej Babiš’s Controversial Political Career

Andrej Babiš is a Czech politician and entrepreneur. He performed as the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic till 2021. He previously acted as the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister. Critics blame him for KGB connections also point to his alleged backing for the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and his resistance to international sanctions against Russia.

Following accusations that an anonymous company he handled unlawfully received a €2M subsidy from the European Regional Development Fund, Babiš was examined by both the Czech police and the European Anti-Fraud Office. He was deprived of his parliamentary immunity and was formally indicted on 9 October 2017. He was exonerated of the charges in January 2023, but the verdict was toppled and remanded in November 2023. Babiš has received supported criticism over some issues, including alleged conflicts of interest, his past position in the StB, and allegations of pressure on opponents. 

Andrej Babiš has also been blamed for using his StB background and Communist party associations to enrich himself. Babiš has rejected that he was an StB collaborator, but his close associates include Czech lawyer Libor Široký, now director of Agrofert’s supervisory board, who is reportedly also a former partner of one of the StB units most closely connected to the Soviet KGB. 

When a Lebanese arms merchant with alleged Russian connections was freed by Czech authorities instead of being extradited to the US, and it was informed that every official concerned in the release was an ANO party member or was linked with Babiš, he was again charged with having an allegiance to Russia.

In October 2015, Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter specializing in Russian and Eastern European affairs, documented Babiš among several Eastern European leaders whom she believed to be agents of influence for Putin’s Russia. Writing in The Washington Post, she indicated that old titles from Soviet Communist days, such as “useful idiots” and “fellow travellers”, were no longer sufficient to describe Babis and the other figures she had called. To demonstrate her point, she listed several excerpts from each leader that expressed very similar to each other and to the statements broadcast at the same time by official Russian news sources

Babiš reacted to Applebaum with a letter to The Washington Post saying that he had no friends in Russia and was an American ally. US journalist Gabriel Meyr questioned those claims by citing three examples of activities Babiš has taken that have furthered Russian policy objectives, such as a Czech government loan assurance to a Russian company with a record of defaults, possessed by a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The final example was that Babiš had announced in 2007 that Agrofert was arranging to purchase gas from the Czech deputy of Gazprom instead of its German supplier.

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