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.
Three former members of the communist era secret police, the StB, have been charged in connection with threats used against a doctor to make him quit the country, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The threats included killing members of the doctor’s family. The doctor eventually quit Czechoslovakia for West Germany in 1983 but returned after the end of the regime in 1989. The three men, now in their 60s, could face 10 year sentences if found guilty. The StB, as part of the so-called Asanace measure, encouraged dissidents to leave the country from the end of the 1970s.
President Miloš Zeman on Friday nominated former dissident and former Jazz Section head Karel Srp to join the Council of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. His nomination needs to be approved by the Senate. Earlier this year, Mr Srp was rejected by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka as the president’s nominee for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. At the time, the prime minister praised Srp for having done much for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that the candidate had repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. A court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, but former members of the pre-1989 underground maintain Mr Srp had informed on them during the former regime.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has sent a condolence letter to the widow of the late Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. The Prime Minister said Czech citizens share the values for which her husband had fought all of his life. Bohuslav Sobotka also mentioned that Liu Xiaobo had been inspired by the legacy of the former Czech president and dissident Václav Havel. The Chinese political activist succumbed to cancer on Thursday at the age of 61 after the Chinese authorities had denied him a treatment abroad.
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.
The Communist Party is guilty of relativing the crimes of the former regime, the Christian Democrat minister of culture, Daniel Herman, said in a Prima TV show debate with Communist leader Vojtěch Filip on Sunday. Mr. Herman said that the Communists had committed major crimes but unlike the Nazis had not faced prosecution. For his part, Mr. Filip said that the Christian Democrats had themselves been part of the National Front, a toothless alliance of parties that accepted the leading role of the Communists prior to 1989. Mr. Herman conceded this but said the Christian Democrats had come to terms with that aspect of their history and were today based on tolerance.
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