Sebastian Kurz is once again caught up in the вЂњRussian scandalвЂќ, better known as the вЂњIbiza GateвЂќ, which two years ago broke up the coalition of the head of the cabinet in parliament and sent the country to early elections. The politician was suspected of giving false testimony during the last investigation. Experts believe that the promotion of this case is beneficial not only to the prime minister's opponents but also to his associates.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his chief of staff Bernhard Bonellia are suspected of giving false testimony in parliament in the controversial 2019 case, the Austrian press agency writes. The head of the Cabinet of Ministers has already officially confirmed this information, rejecting any accusations regarding his answers to questions from representatives of special committees of the parliament.
вЂњI have just been informed that an investigation has been opened. I think no one is interested in giving any false testimony [at the hearings in the parliamentary special committees] I guarantee you that I will continue my work and will not allow myself to be upset. There is still enough to do in the country, вЂњ the Chancellor added.
Kurz did not explain what case he is currently being investigated for, but criticized the representatives of the parliamentary commission established during the вЂњIbiza GateвЂќ, thanks to which the Austrian Prosecutor's Office for combating economic crimes and corruption launched an investigation against him.
вЂњIt has become a common method in the commission to create a heated atmosphere with leading questions, and sometimes even insinuations, and then at the same time try to distort every word in the mouth,вЂќ the Chancellor stressed.
Echo of the вЂњRussian scandalвЂќ
According to the European edition of Politico, the new investigation into Kurz concerns two points. First, the alleged false testimony in Parliament during the investigation of the вЂњIbiza GateвЂќ case. And secondly, about possible violations in the appointment of the CEO of the state-owned company OBAG Thomas Schmid-a supporter of Kurz.
What threatens the Chancellor
Under Austrian law, if the Chancellor is found guilty of making false statements to a parliamentary commission, he could face up to three years in prison. In the OBAG case, everything will depend on the extent of Kurz's involvement in appointments at the state-owned company, but in any case, the charges may lead to his resignation.
At the moment, the Austrian prosecutor's office only confirms the status of suspects in the Chancellor and the chief of his administration, Bernhard Bonelli. The department stressed that it is too early to say whether they will actually be charged.
Most likely, Kurtz will not face any serious consequences in connection with this investigation. The Chancellor can only resign if it turns out that he really lied when giving evidence.
Experts also agree that suspicions about the chancellor are unlikely to affect Kurz's plans to host a summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and American leader Joe Biden in Vienna. But, while the Austrian capital is not fixed as a meeting place, and the heads of state may well hold talks without the Austrian Chancellor.
The meeting between Putin and Biden is not yet listed in any calendar, while there are only preliminary conversations. Vienna is indeed named as a meeting place, as is Helsinki along with a number of other European capitals. However, there is nothing serious here yet, and we should not link this issue to the accusations against Kurtz.