Czech press survey - June 27


27.06.2014 07:36

Prague - All major Czech dailies today comment on the Slovak court´s verdict saying Slovak-born Czech Deputy PM and Finance Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire businessman, was registered as an agent of the communist secret police (StB) unrightfully.


Ilustrační foto - Ministr financí Andrej Babiš. ČTK Dospiva Jakub

The case of Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis case shows that the lustration law, which was passed to "protect democracy from evildoers," is useless 25 years after the collapse of the communist regime, Petr Kambersky writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

The lustration law from October 1991 bans former top Communists functionaries and StB collaborators from high political and economic posts.

The court´s verdict is a great victory for Babis, but otherwise nothing has changed in the problem - neither politically nor socially, Kambersky says.

The verdict does not persuade those who are persuaded that Babis (dubbed agent Bures in the StB files) collaborated wittingly with the StB.

But above all it is apparent that a major part of the Czech population does not care for it. They voted for Babis with the awareness that he collaborated with StB either wittingly or unwittingly, Kambersky writes.

The Babis case indicates that it is high time to abolish the lustration law. However, exactly because Babis is an elected politician, the law cannot be abolished. Vaclav Havel could have written a nice absurd one-act play based on this story, Kambersky concludes.

The Czech society is not willing to be confronted with the past indefinitely and it is interested in the future, therefore it seems that it would be reasonable to abolish the lustration law, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today, commenting on the Babis case.

The Bratislava court´s verdict in the dispute between Babis and the Slovak Nation´s Memory Institute (UPN) is not surprising since the court has decided consistently in similar other cases. It almost looks like no network of StB collaborators existed in Slovakia at all, Honzejk says.

He adds that this is no criticism of the Slovak judiciary but it only reminds of the fact that the judiciary and history are different branches with different methods.

Yet the most significant finding is that even if the court had decided that Babis had been an StB agent, it would not have harmed his position and immense popularity, Honzejk points out.

This is why the old lustration law should be abolished. Moreover, it is not followed in practice, he writes.

"The only argument for the preservation of lustration, which can be taken seriously more or less, is that we thereby distance ourselves from the criminal communist regime," Honzejk notes.

"However, it would be more honest to admit that we will never cope with the past since the past has simply faded away rather than keep the lustration law artificially and formally alive," Honzejk concludes.

The society has changed and people consider the mistakes committed in the past 25 years worse than collaboration with the previous regime, but the Babis case reveals that "we are still struggling with the [communist] past," Ludek Navara writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today

The whole dispute about Babis may even lead to a simplified conclusion that "everything was different," Navara writes.

However, everyone has a chance of getting acquainted with the past thoroughly, he adds.

"No court will decide instead of us whether we want or do not want to have a man [Babis] with such past in such a post... We alone must say whether the past is an obstacle or not. It namely seems that we do not know it and this is why we want someone else to answer the question. We might even subconsciously wish that the past did not exist at all," Navara writes in MfD.

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