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March 21, 2018
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Czech Justice Minister now in charge of human rights agenda, but will he join the next Government?

12.3.2018 7:08
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán at a press conference after the cabinet session on 17.1.2018. (PHOTO:
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán at a press conference after the cabinet session on 17.1.2018. (PHOTO:

The Friday edition of the daily Lidové noviny (LN) reported that outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) is rumored to have agreed with Czech President Miloš Zeman that Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán (ANO), currently entrusted with the human rights agenda, will not be in the next Government. LN reported that Pelikán will be replaced by Deputy Interior Minister Petr Mlsna, who is a lawyer.

Yesterday Babiš rejected those speculations and said he is counting on Pelikán remaining in office. LN reported that the appointment of Mlsna as Justice Minister would accelerate the extradition of alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin to the Russian Federation.

Nikulin was arrested in Prague in October 2016 and his extradition is sought by both Russia and the United States of America. Zeman has asked Pelikán twice this year already to return Nikulin to his home country.

Pelikán has recently made appearances criticizing the Government's strategy in various areas. He disagreed, for example, with the choice of a Communist, Zdeněk Ondráček, as head of the commission overseeing the General Inspectorate of the Security Services, and he disagreed with the vice-chair of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party, Czech MP Tomio Okamura, remaining in the leadership of the lower house.

In an interview for online television channel ROMEA TV, Pelikán reiterated that he considers the SPD a Fascist party and that a Government with the support of the SPD or with SPD members directly in the cabinet would be de facto political suicide for the ANO movement. Babiš did not want to comment to the Czech News Agency about the speculations as to who among the current ministers will not be in the next cabinet.

Babiš did, however, insist he is still counting on Pelikán, who has mentioned his time as Justice Minister possibly coming to an end more than once to the media. "I have spoken with him, I personally am counting on him," the current and future PM said.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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