There is no need to panic or to demonize the few individuals who are among the colony of Czech friends and advisors to PM Robert Fico from the ČSSD Czech social-democratic party. Nevertheless, while names like Jaroslav Tvrdík and Jan Kavan should put us on our guard, the fact that the director of Slovak Railways was named at the suggestion of a man named Miroslav Šlouf should be investigated by the counter-intelligence division of the SIS as well as the State Security Council.
The nomination of Dalibor Zelený, who six years ago was the head of Czech Railways, to the head of Slovak Rail did not attract any comment at the time, even though the Czech magazine Respekt wrote that "Czech Railways are in a catastrophic situation, and if they weren't a state company they would be in bankruptcy".
Incompetent managers of state companies are not a novelty in Slovakia, but what is new is the fact that a man like Šlouf has managed to penetrate the prime minister's inner circle of advisors. The career and role of Šlouf, who without question is one of the darkest characters in Czech public life following November 1989, can be described in one sentence: As the éminence grise of former Czech PM Miloš Zeman, he 'mafianized' Czech politics. He returned former communists and ŠtB secret service members, with whom he had grown up as a Bolshevist bureaucrat, to public posts, and connected the state with organized crime to such an extent that Lukáš Jelínek, a social democrat and political scientist wrote of him that "Šlouf turned Czech politics into a Palermo, and in many cases it was impossible to say who was a politician, who was a bureaucrat, and who was a criminal". This is not an individual opinion, but the consensus of journalists and politicians, as shown by the fact that even social democratic Czech PM Jiří Paroubek was against Šlouf's return to politics.
Following the appointment of Zelený, who was not brought to Slovakia by Paroubek but by Šlouf, we should ask whose interests are being served in Slovakia under the cover of good relations between Smer and the ČSSD. A source told the aktualne.cz news server that "Šlouf with the help of former communists has taken over in Slovakia". Šlouf told Sme in an interview that "our relations were always based on personal friendships and ties". Ah, so that's how it is.
Who are your friends, Prime Minister Fico? And what do you have to say about it, secret service director Magala?
Sme, April 25
30. Apr 2007 at 0:00 | Peter Schutz