“Andrej Babis is one of the wealthiest men in eastern Europe — if you bite bread, read a newspaper, fill your car with fuel, or put fertilizer on your window box in Prague, chances are you owe Babis money. He is also Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Finance Minister, and candidate to become the next Czech President.
When Babis announced on Friday in Washington that he is planning to sue the US foreign policy establishment for libel, he wasn’t bluffing. His aim is to stop the US State Department, American officers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and the war party in Kiev from attacking him as a Kremlin stooge.
The rise of Babis is also the takeoff of another albatross which is about to hang itself around the neck of candidate to become President of the US, Hillary Clinton. For it’s her campaign booster and pollster, Douglas Schoen and his old firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), which claim credit for inventing Babis’s political party, Akce Nespokojených Občanů (Action of Dissatisfied Citizens) – the acronym ANO also means “yes” in Czech – and putting Babis in power. From non-existence in 2011, ANO took 19% of the votes in the Czech lower house election of 2013, a close second behind the ruling Social-Democratic Party; 17% in the Czech senate election of last October. According to the American pollster, PSB’s Czech-educated executive, Alexander Braun is the winner of several US awards for his Czech political campaigns. He also claims credit, along with Schoen, for advising “notable clients…includ[ing] Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton, as well as presidents in Mexico, Ukraine, and Philippines.”
With the ANO vote running at close to 20%, and Babis’s voter approval rating at better than 60%, he and his appointees in the Czech Government control the ministries of finance, defence, justice, transport, environment, and regional development. Try buying, lighting, and stubbing out a cigarette between Karlovy Vary in the west, on the German border, and Ostrava in the east, near Poland, and you need ANO’s permission.
If it is American strategy to prevent Germany or Russia, or the two of them together, from ruling who can drop their butts in Eastern Europe, then the rise of the potentate of Prague is either a good thing, or a bad thing. For the time being, it’s an uncertain, so a dangerous thing.
When “Dragoon Ride”, a convoy of 120 armoured cars from the US Army and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), tried to rally Czech support for American rule of Ukraine and war against Russia last month, it was the ANO ministries which refused to allow them to drive through Prague, diverting them instead to a military base on the outskirts.
The US Army called “Dragoon Ride” a “highly visible demonstration of U.S, commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO’s ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation.” On March 29 the Stars and Stripes reported that “the convoy unleashed fierce debate among the Czech people and politicians. On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Prague, the capital, to demonstrate support for and opposition to the convoy and American foreign policy.” The Ukrainian regime media called that “the opening of another Russian front in the Czech Republic”, and the Czech Republic “Russia’s outpost in central Europe.” In Kiev Babis’s ANO was called the “Führerpartei”.
The Ukrainian allegations were published on March 29. On April 13 a US-supported think-tank in London calling itself the Henry Jackson Society published a report on Babis entitled “Now the Czechs have an oligarch problem, too”. The author was Andrew Foxall (right), who heads the Jackson group’s Russia Studies Centre. Foxall has been an academic in Belfast. For several days he has had a problem. When readers tried to open his report on Babis, the link was blocked by what was described as a “fatal error”. The think-tank now says “that was a technical problem with our website.” It can now be read here.
The Jackson think-tank reports patrons representing the US Council on Foreign Relations; the US National Endowment on Democracy; General Jack Sheehan (below left), a former US NATO commander and now lobbyist for the Bechtel construction company; former Pentagon official, Richard Perle (centre); and Robert Kagan (right) a foreign policy advisor to several secretaries of state. Kagan is the husband of Victoria Nuland, the State Department official currently in charge of eastern Europe and the Ukraine war.
On Friday (April 17) Babis was in Washington for the annual spring meeting of finance ministers at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), announcing there that the Jackson Society’s allegations are “a pack of lies and dirty tricks…What a coincidence that it was published [on April 10] two days before I arrived [in the United States].”
Babis directed his public attack against Foreign Policy, which published Foxall’s report in the US. The magazine was owned by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace until 2008, when it was bought by the Washington Post. When the Post was sold in 2013 to Jeffrey Bezos, the Amazon.com owner, Foreign Policy was one of the small properties in the deal. It calls itself “A Trusted Advisor for Global Leaders When the Stakes are Highest.”
David Rothkopf (right), the editor of Foreign Policy, is an apparatchik from Bill Clinton’s administration. He also owns a company called Garten Rothkopf, which he describes as “an international advisory company specializing in global political risk, energy, resource, technology and emerging markets issues based in Washington, D.C.” According to the company, it specializes in “focus on political realities that uncovers the likely – though often unintended – consequences of government action”.
Rothkopf is a booster of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Two years ago he claimed in print “there are few certainties in American politics. But you can write it down: If Hillary Clinton wants to be the next nominee of the Democratic Party to be president, the job is hers.” Rothkopf also claims Clinton “has been the most successful U.S. secretary of state in two decades.”
(…) In New York the Clinton Foundation identifies few donors from the Czech Republic. One is Ladislav Drab (below, right), the chief executive of American Power Supply and Czeska Energie (CE Group), traders in imported natural gas, LNG, and electricity for the Czech market. Drab’s donation to the Clintons is listed in the $100,000 to $250,000 range. Drab received this souvenir from Bill Clinton:
Another in the Clinton roster of donors is Braun’s firm Penn Schoen & Berland (PSB), which is recorded as making a donation of $50,000 to $100,000. If Braun was fronting for Babis or another of Braun’s clients, he isn’t saying. There is no record at the US Justice Department’s foreign agents’ registry that Braun or PSB represent either Babis or a Czech government entity or business. If Braun has been billing Babis for advice on which US Government officials to meet, he isn’t obliged to register as a foreign agent. If he picks up the telephone to arrange a meeting, the law requires him to register.
The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek have all been reporting in recent days on the foreign business and government lobbying of Hillary Clinton accompanied by large donations to the Clinton Foundation. For more on the $13 million in donations which Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk has made to the Clinton Foundation, on the advice of lobbyist Schoen from PSB, click. This week Newsweek is reporting that while Pinchuk was giving money to the Clintons, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State overlooked his breaches of US and European Union sanctions against trading with Iran.
Schapiro and others from the Clinton entourage are now pressing Babis and the ANO to reverse Czech policy, and revive earlier US and NATO plans to establish missile batteries and other military deployments on Czech territory. An American source in Prague says: “Babis doesn’t work for the Americans, but he doesn’t like Zeman. Clearly he is out to become president himself. He is likely to succeed. ” (Read more: John Helmer, 4/20/2015) (Archive)
(Republished in part with permission.)