By Marián Leško
"I didn't believe a word he said, and there was certainly some manipulation with files," said Prime Minister Robert Fico on January 1 of Jan Langoš, the deceased head of the Nation's Memory Institute, when he was asked why the government had bestowed a state decoration on a person listed as a former agent of the ŠtB communist-era secret police. The statement of the prime minister was not only factually absurd, but also politically tactless and humanly low.
Fico's claim that people monkeyed with the ŠtB files that the Nation's Memory Institute administers, and that he never believed what Langoš said, was absurd because Langoš did a great deal to remove the basis on which manipulation can occur. This basis is a monopoly on access to information, documents and archives. Jan Langoš fought to prevent a narrow group of people in Slovakia from abusing their control of communist-era files to manipulate others. He founded the Nation's Memory Institute to give the widest possible group of people the greatest possible access to information regarding the totalitarian period. As a member of parliament, Langoš also was responsible for the legislature's passing a Freedom of Access to Information Act that helps to prevent the government from manipulating the public by withholding important facts.
Fico's claim was politically uncultured because it was not based on any evidence, but merely on his personal feelings. The leader of the executive branch simply cannot go around throwing out statements such as "manipulation occurred with files", because this is a serious charge.
Finally, the fact that the prime minister levelled these accusations against someone who cannot defend himself worsens the whole situation, because there is a big difference between attacking a political rival and attacking his memory. If the prime minister doesn't know what the difference is, then he is lacking something fundamental and necessary in his make-up as a leader.
Sme, January 3
8. Jan 2007 at 0:00