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PRESS digest: SME DAILY

News item: The ruling coalition Smer party has submitted a bill to parliament calling for compensation for people on the former Communist Party's "black list" for their criticism of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Most of these people are former communists who fell out of favour, such as HZDS party leader Vladimír Mečiar.


"Falsifying history"
By Peter Schutz


It is still unclear whether the "quiet counter-revolution" has already begun in Slovakia, or whether it will wait until next February. If parliament approves a bill providing compensation for people on the so-called "black list" [of former communists excluded from public life following the purges after the Prague Spring], it could even begin in December.

The proposal for compensation submitted by ruling coalition MPs is simply a glorification of the "68ers" and a falsification of history. With all due respect to the positions that communist reformers took at the time, we have to remember that in Bolshevist Czechoslovakia, people didn't lose their jobs for political reasons only at the beginning of the normalization period in the 1970s, but permanently. The list is far longer than those 300 names prepared by the ex-communists, and should also include people who never had a chance to get a job they could be thrown out of, given that neither they nor their parents were members of the Communist Party. The moral claim of these people is far higher than that of former or reformist communists.

We should also ask why these former functionaries should be paid from the taxes of people who were never a member of the regime's criminal institutions. Having a function or a state post is not a basic human right, just as losing that post is not the same as spending 10 years in the Jáchymov uranium mines or being beaten up by the ŠtB secret service.

If we took this compensation proposal to its absurd length, we would be forced to pay compensation to members of the former ruling parties who lost their posts after June 17 elections. Will anyone claim that the ruling Smer party does not have a black list, one that in Banská Bystrica region alone contains 300 names?

It is absurd that the 68ers, many of whom collaborated with the regime for many years, are putting themselves above people who opposed the regime, and who have not been given any special one-off compensation. The current ruling coalition has a fatal attraction to compensation, but it would be better advised to limit itself to people who lost money in failed pyramid schemes.

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