Newly uncovered microfiche confirms StB spied on Vaclav Klaus

13-06-2007

It has long been taken as a given that in the 1980s President Vaclav Klaus - then employed as an economist at the Czechoslovak National Bank - was monitored by the StB, communist Czechoslovakia's secret police. But until now, concrete evidence was lacking. Not any more: on Wednesday a Czech newspaper, Mlada Fronta Dnes, revealed that it had uncovered microfiche dating back to the 1980s, confirming that Mr Klaus had indeed been watched.

Before it was uncovered, the file (four sheets of fiche containing 200 pages of details) lay in an anonymous envelope forgotten in the archives. Now we know that the StB operation on Mr Klaus bore the innocuous-sounding name of "Kluk", or Boy, and that Mr Klaus had six informers who reported on his affairs. Over a period of two years the StB bugged and searched his office, tapped his family phone, and read his mail. Critical were economic lectures Mr Klaus had organised, which an initial StB informer had said addressed people with "non-Marxist views" and "right-wing" leanings. A little earlier I spoke to political analyst Bohumil Dolezal about the case:

According to Bohumil Dolezal, organising economic lectures with leanings to the West was not without risk at the time, although by the mid-1980s the mood of overhanging danger had lessened considerably:

"Activities of this kind generally weren't criminalised at this time. They banned you from doing what you were doing, or moved you to another post, or threw you out of work. But generally you wouldn't be sent to prison: the meetings weren't illegal and Mr Klaus wasn't alone: there were others like Milos Zeman who were similarly active in independent circles. Mr Klaus has also pointed out that by the time he was being watched, perestroika was already underway in Russia, so there wasn't even that much of a threat here. The StB were basically toothless by then."

Mr Klaus himself has told Mlada Fronta Dnes that he always assumed he was being watched although he did not know when or by whom. In any case, he told the daily, he never really paid the situation much mind. It could not have been a comfortable realisation that one was being watched, but as Bohumil Dolezal and others point out, all kinds of people were spied on then and many just got used to it. The president himself has indicated it was necessary to ignore the many possibilities in order to simply get on with one's life.

13-06-2007