THE NATION'S Memory Institute (ÚPN) has discovered about 30 documents of the communist state secret police (ŠtB) that were falsified. But critics are raising questions about the information on alleged collaborators that is being made public now.
The head of the ÚPN, Ivan Petranský, announced the findings at an October 12 press conference.
"In the files of these people, in the original registration records . . . information was changed, which could have identified them as secret collaborators of the ŠtB," he said.
They do not know when the documents were falsified, but it seemed to be after the fall of the totalitarian regime at the start of 1990, shortly after the ŠtB was dissolved.
According to the ÚPN employees, the documents were altered so that intentional collaborators and agents of the ŠtB were recorded as persecuted targets:
"For example, the writer and artist Albert Marenčin, and Juraj Vereš, the former editor-in-chief of the Národná Obroda daily, which is no longer published," he said.
In these cases, ÚPN employees thought the falsifications were to the advantage of the agents, not the other way around, he said. They have not found a case where the ŠtB falsely registered someone as a collaborator.
Petranský said it is not yet known who tampered with these documents and why. The ÚPN will publish names of more people in this case later.
Parts of the documents on Vereš and Marenčin were erased and re-written, Petranský said.
"In spite of this fact, registration records remain a trustworthy source of information," he said, as quoted by the ČTK newswire on October 12. He added that the information can be verified in other documents.
The ÚPN was created to investigate the crimes of the communist and fascist regimes, and to archive documents from those times.
Why them and why now?
Milan Žitný, a journalist who specialises in secret service issues, said he thinks the registration records were erased and rewritten in the spring of 1990, when the ŠtB archives were moved to the newly-opened Institute for the Defense of the Constitution and Democracy, led by Jaroslav Svěchota. At the same time, pages were torn out of the registration files concerning former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar and Svěchota himself.
However, everything has to be investigated properly, Žitný said.
"Only a meticulous examination can alead to an unbiased finding," he told The Slovak Spectator.
According to the ÚPN, Vereš and Marenčin were assigned to incite divisions in the religious and civic dissent movement. For example, they were supposed to turn the future co-founders of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Ján Čarnogurský and František Mikloško, against each other. The same went for political analyst Miroslav Kusý and journalist and writer Milan Šimečka.
According to the ŠtB files, they also provided information about historian Jozef Jablonický, journalist Agneša Kalinová and her husband, Ján Ladislav Kalina.
Kusý, who was allegedly one of the people targeted, thinks the ÚPN is playing a spy game by publishing the information on Vereš and Marenčin now, as so far, it has only released two out of 30 names, he said.
"It is just speculation, but I think it is all weird," he told The Slovak Spectator. "So far, others have not been released. Why?
"In Slovakia, a case recently came up about the law on venerating the controversial Andrej Hlinka, whose heritage was adopted by top representatives of the fascist Slovak State (during the Second World War). The latest information from the ÚPN seems to me like a response, a counter-action, aimed at distracting from Hlinka."
Kalinová, who was allegedly also fingered by Vereš, strongly condemned the ÚPN's move to publish this information.
"It is shameless that they were publicised like this," she told The Slovak Spectator. "They are not politically active, they are both just pensioners."
She also noted that the money that Vereš and Marenčin were alleged to have received from the ŠtB, according to the published records, could have been spent on different things.
"The agents could have taken the money, spent it, and pretended they gave it to Vereš and Marenčin," she said.
Moreover, according to Kusý and Kalinová, no evidence has been published that proves the registration records weren't erased and re-written by ŠtB members before 1988. For instance, ŠtB members might have realised that their leaders could learn that they had falsely registered Marenčin and Vereš as agents.
"ŠtB investigators were representatives, executive organs of a repressive regime that intimidated, humiliated and blackmailed people," Kalinová said. "None of them is personally pilloried by anybody today. On the contrary, their records are taken for granted. And they are misused for strange political games."
'Collaborators' deny reports
The connection between the materials on Vereš and Marenčin that were released by the ÚPN is difficult to follow. Records on financial gifts date from 1985 to December 1989. The reconstructed records from their personal files date from 1976 to 1981. Only some titles of reports have been preserved, and not the reports themselves.
Records on their conscious and deliberate collaboration, including their signatures - which could prove an unambiguous collaboration - were not found for either man. All the files on people who were allegedly fingered by Vereš and Marenčin have also been shreded and destroyed.
Vereš is emphatic that he could not have told the ŠtB anything about some of the people he was alleged to have informed on, as he did not know them.
"I had the privilege of getting to know politicians Ján Čarnogurský and František Mikloško only after the fall of the totalitarian regime," he told The Slovak Spectator. "I have never met the famous historian and journalist Eduard Friš, and I know the actor Pavel Landovský just from his films, which I profoundly regret."
He was also supposed to have identified Kusý. But Kusý himself resolutely denies this.
"I can absolutely rule out such a thing," he told The Slovak Spectator. "During the whole normalisation (the period of reversing the reforms of the Prague Spring in 1968), I simply did not meet Vereš. And moreover, we did not do any underground work. I wrote articles about the situation in our country, but they were published outside Czechoslovakia."
Kusý was one of the approximately 250 people who signed Charter 77, a petition about the violation of human rights in what was then Czechoslovakia led by former Czech president and dramatist Václav Havel. All of them were persecuted. But Kusý said he wouldn't have told anyone else about their meetings.
"Us 'Chartists,' we used to meet. But I never disclosed the time and place of our meetings, not even to my wife," he said. "And so, no one ever revealed it."
Marenčin also told The Slovak Spectator that, like Vereš, he did not know Mikloško or Čarnogurský until the fall of the regime, and he had no contact with Kusý.
He did have meetings with ŠtB members, and they asked him trivial questions which he saw no reason not to answer, he said.
"Maybe I am too naive in such things, as I did not consider it necessary to hide anything," Marenčin said. "Moreover, I made absolutely sure that my answers could not harm anyone, or that they would include confidential information."
Both Vereš and Marenčin were active in the liberalisation process during the Prague Spring of 1968, when "socialism with a human face" was promoted in Czechoslovakia, led by Alexander Dubček. This process was aborted when the Soviet army invaded in August 1968.
Other information not revealed
The ÚPN has not yet revealed the list of "aryanisers," the people who received property from Jews deported to concentration camps by the state in the Second World War. Slovakia still does not know their names, though former ÚPN head Ján Langoš said two years ago it would happen soon.
Nor has the ÚPN released the names of border guards who illegally shot people trying to cross the border. So far, not one case has been tried in Slovakia, although the ÚPN announced several years ago that they would be.
"We have documented 30 cases," Ľubomír Morbacher from the ÚPN told the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny on October 24. "In the coming days, we will try to bring them to court."
From 1948 to 1989, 174 people were shot down on the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany and Austria. In the Czech Republic, border guards have been tried, according to the Hospodářské Noviny, and so far three of them were sentenced.
The editor-in-chief of the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza, Adam Michnik, said he was skeptical about the ŠtB archives.
"It is not possible to handle police documents like they are the Bible," he told the Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes on October 15. "It simply is not possible that anything the ŠtB wrote can be considered the truth. This would be a posthumous triumph of the state police. We cannot allow this to happen."
29. Oct 2007 at 0:00 | Ľuba Lesná