Austrian vice-chancellor resigns over secret video footage - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15005537
The Guardian wrote:Austrian vice-chancellor resigns over secret video footage

Far-right Strache appears to offer public contracts in return for campaign help


Philip Oltermann and Jon Henley

Sat 18 May 2019 11.57 BST First published on Sat 18 May 2019 11.03 BST


ImageHeinz-Christian Strache announces his resignation in Vienna. Photograph: Florian Wieser/EPA

Austria’s vice-chancellor has resigned after a video appeared to show the far-right politician promising public contracts to a fake Russian backer in return for campaign help.

In a press conference in Vienna on Saturday, the Freedom party (FPO) leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said he had been the victim of a “political hit-job” aimed at breaking apart Austria’s governing coalition, and insisted the full video would show he had done nothing wrong.

However, he admitted the video showed him “acting like a teenager” and that his behaviour was “stupid, irresponsible and a mistake”. The 49-year-old said he hoped his party could continue governing in a coalition with the centre-right Austrian People’s party (ÖVP) of the chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

The German weekly Der Spiegel and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung published the video on their websites on Friday. The papers said the hidden-camera recordings took place in a luxury Ibiza villa in July 2017, months before the parliamentary elections that brought Kurz’s conservative and Strache’s far-right parties to power.

The recordings show Strache, who took over as leader of the nationalist party in 2005, and its parliamentary group leader, Johann Gudenus, talking to a woman purporting to be the niece of a Russian oligarch about how she can invest in Austria.

The woman says she is interested in gaining control of the country’s largest-circulation tabloid, the Krone Zeitung, to which Strache replies that after staff changes at the paper it could help the FPO in its election campaign.

Strache is also filmed saying the woman would then be able to gain access to public contracts. Both newspapers said they had no clear and corroborated information about who had set up the elaborate sting operation.

The vice-chancellor told the Suddeutsche Zeitung that “a lot of alcohol was consumed as the evening progressed” and that there was a “high language barrier” during the conversation.

The FPO co-chair, Christian Hafenecker, said lawyers were considering the party’s response. Neither Strache nor the party received or were granted any benefits from the persons concerned, he said in a statement, adding that since the video was “obviously recorded illegally, we are also preparing appropriate legal steps”.

The Socialist party said Gudenus should also resign, describing the footage as Austria’s biggest post-war scandal, while the liberal NEOS party said fresh parliamentary elections were now unavoidable.

Austrian media said the coalition was unlikely to survive. “The FPO is finished,” ran the headline in the Krone Zeitung. Die Presse said the coalition was on the brink. “This is huge. This has to be the end of Heinz-Christian Strache,” the political analyst Thomas Hofer said.

The FPO’s lead candidate in next week’s European parliament elections, Harald Vilimsky, cancelled a planned trip on Saturday to Milan where he was due to take part in a campaign event launching an alliance of European far-right parties led by the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

In the video, Strache, whose party’s first leader was a former SS officer, also ponders the part-privatisation of Austria’s public broadcaster, saying it should be more like the pro-government mouthpiece state media has become in neighbouring Hungary.

He also appeared to suggest political donations might be made through a foundation with links to the FPO rather than the party itself, apparently in order to escape legal scrutiny.

That's just how natural it is to European(/Western?) far-right politicians to get bribed by Russians? :lol:
#15005545
They are super eager to sell out their countries to Russian oligarchs :lol:

Strache also said he wanted to impress the attractive host (the fake oligarch's niece) with "macho behavior". You know like this :lol::

Image

Curious this video wasn't leaked before the Austrian elections but the European elections, suggests some foreign actors might be involved. German BND maybe?
#15005725
Just reading up on this, it sounds like Böhmermann, a German comedian working for a German public broadcaster, has known about this for a while and made allusions to it in one or two speeches in April. So this can't have come as a surprise for Strache and the FPOE.

The tapes were apparently offered to the SZ months ago but the handover didn't take place until recently.

The whole video has not been released and from the sounds of it won't be. The Austrian police has said it will request it to check if Strache should be charged with a crime, but the SZ is apparently not willing to give it to them (not sure about Der Spiegel though).
#15005728
He's definitely a big fan of Orban.

Funny aside:

During the conversation Strache gets suspicion, saying "trap, trap, it's an engineered trap" to which Gudenus replies "it's not a trap".

He also says "we know we are being monitored 24/7 and that they want to destroy us".

This must have been one alcohol and drug filled evening.
#15005737
Beren wrote:with every little thing."

Correct.

Beren wrote:Sure, and he just didn't believe it was a thing big enough to destroy him at the moment.

I doubt he is usually that careless even in casual situations. Even in Austria you can't be so corrupt and have such a long political career without being reasonably cautious when talking to people, especially strangers.
#15005739
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:I doubt he is usually that careless even in casual situations. Even in Austria you can't be so corrupt and have such a long political career without being reasonably cautious when talking to people, especially strangers.

He should have learnt more from Orbán, or should be a sociopath like him perhaps. :lol:
#15005747
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:He says that he has photos of Kern (formerly SPOE) having sex with minors in South Africa and Kurz apparently has sex orgies involving lots of drugs.

We'll see what he has. Sex orgies involving lots of drugs is nothing really special though, but it could be too much for many Austrians I guess.
#15005756
Beren wrote:We'll see what he has. Sex orgies involving lots of drugs is nothing really special though, but it may be too much for many Austrians I guess.

My bet is that he has nothing. He's either making it up or talking about rumours.

It's probably no coincidence that he was targeted, given his embarrassing bragging and juvenile grandstanding.
#15006175
The Guardian covers the story pretty thoroughly. :D

Europe's centrists draw on Austrian scandal to issue far-right warning
Austria's 'Ibiza scandal': what happened and why does it matter?
Austrian government collapses after far-right minister fired




ImageHerbert Kickl leaves the parliamentary group office of Austria’s Freedom party in Vienna after being fired.
Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA


I'm sure Kurz was informed beforehand and knew what and when was going to happen, all this happens with his consent. He sacrifices his coalition partner (and government) for the sake of the EPP (and Merkel) while he remains clean and intact, which must be very much appreciated. Maybe he wanted to do this sooner or later anyway.
#15006251
Rugoz wrote:Curious this video wasn't leaked before the Austrian elections but the European elections, suggests some foreign actors might be involved. German BND maybe?

Why would an intelligence agency make it public? Political opposition seems much more likely to me, although I agree it's not necessarily domestic.
#15006296
Rugoz wrote:Seemed like an elaborate trap to me at first, but I guess Strache was just stupid.

The setup is competent and the camera seems to be positioned so that it can be released to the public (although audio could be better).

Funny aside: Papadopoulos, one of the guys who worked on the Trump campaign, also claimed he was set up using an attractive women who didn't speak English and who he was told was Putin's niece. She was supposed to give him (and Trump) access to Putin's inner circle.
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