None of a trio of communist-era secret policemen suspected of involvement
in a campaign to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and
1980s will face trial, Czech Television reported on Tuesday.
The state attorney recently halted the investigation into one of the three as he was judged not well enough to stand trial. The other two had already been released.
The three had stood accused of threatening to kill a dissident in North Bohemia. The man, who was a doctor, subsequently left the country with his family.
The communist operation to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia was known as asanace (clearance).
The police have charged three former members of the Communist era secret police, the StB, for their role in Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Sixteen former members of the secret police have stood trial and been convicted for intimidating or using violence against dissidents, but the main organizer of the campaign, Jaromír Obzina died before he could be tried.
A Prague court has rejected a request for compensation from former dissident and Charter 77 signatory Petr Hanzlík who was persecuted by the communist secret police and one of the victims of Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Hanzlík sued the Interior Ministry asking for 12 million in compensation for the property he was forced to leave behind and 700,000 for loss of pension. The court ruled that the statute of limitations on communist crimes had expired. Hanzlík’s lawyer has said his client would appeal the case.
The movie based on the life of politician Milada Horáková who was executed by the Communists after a show trial in the hardline 1950s is in post-production and will premiere on October 31st of this year. The film’s director, producer and scriptwriter David Mrnka spent nine years working on the project. Milada Horáková is portrayed by the Israeli-American actress Ayelet Zurer. American actor Robert Grant plays her husband. The screenplay is based on materials provided by Horáková’s daughter Jana Kánská.
The country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes on Tuesday launched a new project to commemorate victims of former Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. Called “Last Address”, the idea was inspired by similar initiatives in Russia. Within the project, plaques will be installed at victims’ final addresses – recalling their lives and what they stood for, for which they died.
Professor Igor Lukeš teaches at Boston University and has written extensively on modern Czech history, the Cold War and contemporary developments in Central and Eastern Europe. When we spoke recently the conversation took in everything from his increasingly sympathetic view of Neville Chamberlain to his own arrival in New York in the late 1970s. But I first asked the renowned historian about his early life in communist Czechoslovakia.
A new website launched on Tuesday by the Security Services Archive (www.mvu.ebadatelna.cz) allows the public access to information on the daily workings of the Communist-run Ministry of the Interior and an overview of key personnel in the StB secret police and their activities. Visitors will also be able to view records kept on a number of well-known figures at the website, which covers the period from 1969 until February 1990, when the StB was abolished. The archive is the Czech Republic’s main repository for communist-era secret police files.
Pavel Minařík, who was a spy for communist Czechoslovakia, has been sent to prison for four months for the possession of a weapon without a license, Právo reported on Tuesday. The one-time StB agent attempted to commit suicide with an illegally held weapon in 2015 while on probation for insurance fraud, the newspaper said. The court was unable to impose a fine on him as he is living without means in a Red Cross facility for pensioners. Mr. Minařík, who is now 72, infiltrated Radio Free Europe in West Germany in the mid-1970s and planned to blow up the station. He was tried in Prague and received a four-year jail term in 1993.
A text written by Václav Havel on the first days of Charter 77 that he himself believed lost is to be published in connection with Friday’s 40th anniversary of the launch of the protest document. The 100-page text was found recently in the papers of Zdeněk Urbánek, a friend who like Mr. Havel was a leading dissident in communist Czechoslovakia. The first chapter is being published by the Václav Havel Library in a run of 500 numbered copies. The publication will be launched at a gathering on Friday outside Mr. Urbánek’s former home in Prague 6, where much of Charter 77 was written. A conference and other events are also taking place in connection with the anniversary.