A past that includes alleged StB collaboration could keep the billionaire out of gov’t
The controversial file that the former Czechoslovak communist secret police had on ANO leader Andrej Babiš, citing collaboration in the 1980s, was falsified by the officers who wrote it, former StB officer Andrej Kulha, who was responsible for the file then, told Euro magazine.
“I am 98 percent sure that Babiš was not an agent,” Kulha said in the interview, parts of which were released on the E15.cz news site. At the same time, presumptive Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Sunday in a TV interview that it was time to retire the screening law.
Babiš, who has been mentioned for the position of Finance Minister, has held fast to his position that he did not collaborate with the StB. The head of the ANO party said conservative parties in the recent election for bringing up the file. Babiš said some Slovak and Czech media were also behind the affair. Kulha, the former agent, said his former colleagues falsified Babiš’s file to make their work easier. He added that Babiš clashed with them in the 1980s.
Babiš ANO movement scored a huge success in the recent election and is currently negotiating a future government with the winning Social Democrats (ČSSD). The billionaire businessman would like to be deputy prime minister for the economy, but President Milosš Zeman has demanded that all ministers prove they had not been StB agents in the past by submitting a so-called lustration certificate.
The Slovak National Memory Institute (ÚPN) lists Babiš among the StB agents. Babiš has taken the matter to court and a Slovak court is expected to decide on the case in January at the earliest.
Kulha, who lives in Bratislava, was a captain of the Czechoslovak economic counter-intelligence. He told Euro he was prepared to repeat his opinion in court.
According to the StB file, Babiš was the secret police’s informer from 1980 and in 1982 he became an StB agent codenamed Bureš. In the 1980s, Babiš worked in the Petrimex foreign trade company. In 1985, the StB reportedly interrupted cooperation with him because he left for a long business trip to Morocco.
Slovak daily Sme wrote previously that Babiš’s codename is found in reports in two other files. Euro writes that the ÚPN, the office in charge of old StB files, did not comment on Kulha’s claim that the file was falsified.
According to the StB file, it was Kulha who wrote a report on suspension of collaboration with agent Bureš in 1987. Among others, the report says that the agent had a responsible attitude toward the secret collaboration. The file includes a handwritten note from 1988 signed by Kulha and saying that the defects revealed by a check have been removed and that the secret collaborator Bureš is expected to return from Morocco in 1989.
ÚPN director Ondrej Krajňák told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) in Prague that he would not comment on the issue because court proceedings over the file are still under way.
For Sobotka, he called the screening law outdated and said the situation should not be allowed to hold up talks on a new government.