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.
Sunday is the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant moments of
the Velvet Revolution, when the general secretary of Czechoslovakia’s
Communist Party, Miloš Jakeš, stood down, along with the rest of its
The move, on November 24, 1989, came a week after the demonstration that sparked the fall of communism in the country and ultimately paved the way for dissident writer Václav Havel to become president by the end of December 1989.
Former high ranking communist party leaders such as Milouš Jakes and prime minister Lubomir Štrougal are among 67 Czechs and Slovaks being sued for the deaths of five German citizens who were killed on the Iron Curtain trying to flee communist Czechoslovakia. The Platform for European Memory and Conscience filed a criminal complaint in Germany after losing faith that justice would be done in the Czech Republic.
Former senior Communists such as one-time party general secretary Milouš Jakeš and prime minister Lubomír Štrougal are among 67 Czechs and Slovaks who face charges over the deaths of five German citizens who were killed trying to cross the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia to the West, the ctk news agency reported. Charges were pressed by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, a group that pushes for the punishment of perpetrators of communist-era crimes. According to the organization’s director Neela Winkelmann, it had decided to seek justice in Germany since only a few former rank-and file border guards had been convicted of killing people on the country’s borders in the Czech Republic. According to German lawyer Konrad Manz the said crimes were crimes against humanity that are not bound by a statute of limitations.
Some musicians have cancelled appearances at the Trutnoff music festival in Trutnov, east Bohemia over the fact organisers have invited one-time Communist Party general secretary Miloš Jakeš to attend. The Plastic People of the Universe, members of which were imprisoned under the Communists, and Už jsme doma said they were pulling out of the August festival in protest, Lidovky.cz reported. Trutnoff organiser Martin Věchet, a former dissident, said he would cancel Mr. Jakeš’s invitation if negative reactions predominated. The festival, which was regularly attended by Václav Havel, is closely linked to the former underground.
Former senior Communists such as one-time party general secretary Milouš Jakeš and prime minister Lubomír Štrougal should face justice for the deaths of people killed trying to cross the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia to the West, says deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek. The chairman of the Christian Democrats said they had committed crimes against humanity that were not bound by a statute of limitations. Mr. Bělobrádek made the comments in the lower house, where he was supporting the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, a group that pushes for the punishment of perpetrators of communist-era crimes.
Czech-born author, journalist and Radio Free Europe broadcaster Milan Schulz died in Munich on Monday at the age of 83. He emigrated in 1969 but the link to his homeland remained firm and for hundreds of thousands of his compatriots behind the Iron Curtain his daily commentaries on RFE were a breath of fresh air in the constrained atmosphere of communist rule. I asked his former colleague broadcaster Petr Brod to share his memories of those days.
The Social Democrats and the Communists held rallies on Wednesday to mark Labour Day, a public holiday in the Czech Republic. The Communist rally took place in Prague’s expo grounds where several hundred of their supporters gathered, including the last chairman of the totalitarian-era Communist party, Milouš Jakeš, and other former officials of the group. The Social Democrat event was held at the same site in the afternoon.
The expression “jako kůl v plotě” – “like a fencepost” - entered Czech folklore in the summer of 1989. The date was July 17 and Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party chief Miloš Jakeš was meeting local party activists in the small West Bohemian town of Červený Hrádek. The authority of the party was being increasingly challenged, and thousands had signed Charter 77's appeal for democratic reform, "Několik vět" (a few sentences). Not realizing that he was being recorded, Jakeš complained bitterly that he felt he was standing on his own and unsupported “like