The name Jolyon Naegele is familiar to many who lived through the final years of communism in Czechoslovakia and other countries in the then Soviet Bloc. At that time Naegele was a roving Eastern European correspondent for the U.S. radio station Voice of America. In a special interview, he discusses his first impressions of Czechoslovakia in 1978, his experiences with the StB, meeting Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution, and developments since then.
Unions at the agency that oversees communist era secret police files and other documents have written to the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, in connection with the planned layoff of around a fifth of its staff, Novinky.cz reported on Saturday. Representatives of three of the five unions at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes asked the minister to halt steps taken by its management, saying they were financially unsound. The redundancies are due to come into effect in April.
Two communist-era secret police officers, Petr Beran and Kamil Líbal, have received suspended sentences for beating up a youth of 17 during an interrogation in January 1989. The incident occurred in connection with demonstrations in Prague marking the anniversary of the death of Jan Palach. The two StB men allegedly aimed to force a confession out of David Kabzan that would be used in a case against Václav Havel, at that time a leading dissident. One of the two has appealed the verdict. Mr. Beran told the court that he had merely being fulfilling the orders of politicians, adding that he regarded his prosecution as political persecution.
Josef Toufar, a priest tortured to death by the communist secret police for allegedly faking a “miracle”, could be about to finally get a decent burial. Almost 65 years after he was dumped in a mass grave, his relatives’ long calls for an exhumation may be answered by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Czech Roman Catholic Church is pushing for the cleric to be beatified.
A court in Prague on Wednesday ruled that a former anchor for the commercial Czech TV channel Nova, Karel Voříšek, was wrongfully listed as a collaborator of the communist-era secret police, the StB. Mr Voříšek stopped working for Nova in 2012 after allegations surfaced that he reported to the StB on his fellow students while studying at the Faculty of Arts of Prague’s Charles University in 1980s.
Last week’s decision by a Bratislava court that Czech finance minister Andrej Babiš was falsely described as being an agent of the Communist era secret police has sparked a lively debate about the apparent clearing of his name. Part of that debate focuses on how the StB functioned and whom it recruited. We look at the working of the StB in former Czechoslovakia and the ongoing arguments about the Babiš’ affair.
A Slovak court has cleared the Czech finance minister and leader of the second strongest party in government Andrej Babiš of having knowingly served as an agent in the communist-era secret police. The verdict met with relief from the minister’s coalition partners but has left many of his critics unconvinced.
Several hundred people gathered at a memorial to the victims of communism in Prague on Thursday to pay homage to the memory of Milada Horáková, the only woman ever to be executed for political reasons in the former Czechoslovakia. In a 1950 show trial Horáková was found guilty of treason and espionage, charges which were later proven to be false. The Communist government annulled the verdict in 1968, but it wasn't until the fall of communism, more than 30 years later, that Milada Horáková was fully exonerated. Her execution took place 64 years ago today.
The leader of the ANO coalition party and current Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has won a court case against the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute which registered him as a former communist-era secret police agent. Babiš launched the court proceedings in an attempt to clear his name, maintaining that although as a former foreign trade worker he could not avoid coming into contact with the communist secret police he had never been recruited as an agent or harmed anyone by bringing information against them. A Bratislava court ruled on Thursday that there was no evidence which would justify putting Andrej Babiš’ name on the list of former communist-era secret police agents. The institute has appealed the verdict.The allegations regarding Mr. Babiš’ past have sparked controversy on the Czech political scene with critics questioning his presence in high office.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta is listed as a collaborator in the files of Czechoslovakia’s communist era secret police, the StB, the news sites iDnes and Echo24 reported on Tuesday. According to the StB records, Mr. Ramos-Horta provided StB officers with information against the United States in New York in the 1970s, when he was at the UN representing the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor. Mr. Ramos-Horta, who was president of East Timor until 2012, denies having spied for Czechoslovakia; he says he was approached by StB agents but refused to cooperate with them.