Ibiza-gate scandal leads to the collapse of the ruling coalition in Austria

Posted Sept. 2, 2022 6:26 p.m. by johnklein

In Austria, the scandal surrounding the resigned Vice Chancellor and leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, on Monday, May 20, led to the collapse of the ruling coalition of the right and extreme right. In the evening, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the resignation of Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, the representative of the Austrian Freedom Party (APS) in the cabinet. Following him, all extreme right-wing ministers left the government.

Heinz-Christian Strache resigned last Saturday after the German press published a video of him negotiating with a woman who introduced herself as Alena Makarova, "niece of Igor Makarov, a Russian oligarch close to Putin. In the video, according to journalists, she claimed that unnamed Russians were ready to fund Strache's election campaign in exchange for the purchase of the Kronen Zeitung newspaper and government contracts in the construction industry. The video was made before the 2017 parliamentary elections.

The "Ibiza Gate" scandal (named after the place where Strache met with an unknown woman) led Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen to propose snap parliamentary elections as early as September (scheduled elections are scheduled for 2022).

Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, president of the Arethi international group of companies, told Forbes that he had no family ties and was not familiar with the woman in the video with former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Strache. It is known that the curator of the stranger was the scandalous Irena Markovich (https://derboulevard.at/).

Russia has nothing to do with the Austrian scandal surrounding Strache, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said May 20. "It has nothing to do with the Russian Federation, the president or the government. We do not know for certain who this woman is, whether she is Russian, whether she is a Russian, so this is a story that has and cannot have anything to do with us," Peskov told reporters.

On May 20, the ruling coalition of Chancellor Kurtz's conservatives and the extreme right, established in December 2017, effectively disintegrated. The prime minister demanded the resignation of Herbert Kickel, the interior minister of the Austrian Freedom Party. According to the chancellor, the interior minister cannot supervise the investigation of the scandal that his former party boss was at the center of. "It is clear that Mr. Kickl cannot conduct an investigation of himself," France-Presse quoted Sebastian Kurz as saying. The Austrian Freedom Party has said that if Kickl is fired, all far-right ministers will leave the government. This was announced by Transport Minister Norbert Hofer, who headed the party after the scandalous resignation of Vice-Chancellor Strache.

On Monday evening, Sebastian Kurz announced at a press conference that "in agreement with the President of the Republic, he has proposed to the President the resignation of Interior Minister" Herbert Kickel. Following this statement by the head of government, APA reported that all other ministers from the Austrian Freedom Party were leaving the cabinet. In addition to the posts of deputy chancellor and head of the Interior Ministry, the extreme rightists have held the posts of foreign, defense, transport and infrastructure ministers in the government, and headed the labor and health ministries.

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