Former minister of justice and current government commissioner for human
rights, Helena Válková, defended laws against dissidents during the
Communist regime, the news site info.cz reported on Thursday.
At the turn of the 1970s and 80s, Mrs Válková published a series of articles in which she defended measures used by the Communist regime to restrict the rights of its opponents, the website writes.
It also says she collaborated on writing one of her articles with the state prosecutor Josef Urválek, who was responsible for securing the death sentences of Milada Horáková, Rudolf Slánský and others in 1950s Communist show trials.
Mrs Válková, whom President Miloš Zeman recently proposed for the post of the Czech Republic’s ombudswoman, denied any wrongdoing, saying the article was insulting and untruthful.
This week marks exactly 500 years since the minting of the first Joachimsthaler coins, the predecessors of the US dollar. The first thalers or tolars, as they were nicknamed by Czechs, were minted on January 9,1520 in the West Bohemian town of Jáchymov. The popular silver coins soon spread across the Hapsburg Empire and into the New World, where they eventually became the official currency.
The Czech police’s Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of
Communism have initiated the prosecution of three senior figures from the
pre-1989 Communist regime. One-time Communist Party general secretary
Miloš Jakeš, former prime minister Lubomír Štrougal and ex-interior
minister Vratislav Vajnar are accused of abuse of office in connection with
the use of firearms on the borders of the then Czechoslovakia, a
representative of the Prague 1 state attorney’s office, Jan Lelek, said
The three top Communists were aware the border patrol service were using guns to shoot people crossing the border without authorisation but did nothing to stop them, Mr. Lelek said.
The Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of Communism said that because of the inaction of the three officials between 1976 and 1989 nine people were either shot dead or killed by dogs while attempting to cross the border into the West; at least seven others were injured.
After attending commemorations in Prague earlier on Sunday, Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš flew to Slovakia to honour the victims of communism.
The ceremony took place at the Freedom Gate memorial near the Slovak castle
of Děvín by the border with Austria, where many died while trying to
cross the tightly guarded border with the West during the Cold War.
Mr. Babiš laid a wreath at the memorial and said that it was important that Czechs and Slovaks were celebrating 30 years since gaining freedom and democracy. Above all, he stressed the importance of free elections, something, that he said was the most important goal of the Civic Forum and its Slovak equivalent, Public against violence, at the time.
His Slovak counterpart Peter Pellegrini said that it is precisely the Freedom Gate memorial which shows the tragic nature of the communist regime.
The Prague Municipal Court on Wednesday rehabilitated the late General
Milan Píka over his unjustified imprisonment by the Communist regime in
the late 1940s. The judge said it was the only possible response to the
wrongs committed against him by the regime.
Milan Píka was jailed in 1948 for allegedly plotting to break his father, General Heliodor Píka, out of prison. In 1949 war hero Heliodor Píka became the first victim of judicial murder during Czechoslovakia’s Communist show trials.
Milan Píka died earlier this year and the case to clear his name was taken by his daughter Dagmar Sedláčková.
Czechoslovak citizens executed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s were
remembered at a ceremony in Prague on Tuesday evening. The event took place
at a monument to the victims of the Communist regime in the Újezd
The names of 85 Czechs and Slovaks put to death in the USSR were read out by representatives of the associations that organised it and others. Similar memorials were held elsewhere in Europe on the eve of Russia’s Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions on October 30.
The Náchod district court has ruled that Pavel Wonka, believed to be the
last Czech political prisoner to have died in prison under Communism, had
been illegally incarcerated.
His brother had filed a lawsuit to have him ‘rehabilitated’ and can now claim damages from the state over the unjustified imprisonment.
Following the verdict on Wednesday, Jiří Wonka told reporters that it was a moral victory and that he had not filed the lawsuit to get compensation.
Pavel Wonka was imprisoned in April 1988 for several weeks and died under unclear circumstances. He had initially been released due to bad health, but a judge sent him back to prison for another five months.
Wonka was posthumously awarded the Medal of Merit in 2013.
Prague councillors unanimously agreed on Monday to establish a Museum of
20th Century Memory that will focus on the history of non-free regimes in
the Czech lands. The city council is to put the proposal to a formal vote
on September 19.
A total of 30 civic associations and social organizations bringing together former political prisoners, educators and researchers had expressed support for setting up the new museum.
If approved, the museum’s board will likely include historian and writer Jiří Padevět, Post Bellum director Mikuláš Kroupa and historian Petr Blažek of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
Events are being held in the Czech Republic marking the anniversary of
August 21 in both 1968 and 1969. Czechoslovakia was invaded by Soviet-led
troops on that date in 1968, while the following year a number of
participants in demonstrations on the first anniversary were killed in
clashes with Czechoslovak security forces.
The main memorial event on Wednesday will take place in front of Czech Radio, which was a focal point of defiance and violence in August 1968. Senior elected representatives and people who lived through that time are expected to attend.
The events of August 1969 are to be marked by a march from Wenceslas Square to Prague Castle organised by the group Million Moments for Democracy.
Dozens of other memorial events are also being held around the Czech Republic.