Vladimír Lexa, the father of former Slovak spy boss Ivan Lexa, says he has had enough of the media and government politicians 'demonising' his son. Lexa Sr., who was deputy prime minister of Czechoslovakia in the 1990-1991 government of Milan Čič and later privatised the flour mill Považské mlyny a pekárne, spoke for almost an hour with Lucia Nicholsonová, a reporter for the Sme daily, on July 26.
Lexa Sr. said he had been motivated to speak out by the recent statements issued by Interior Minister Pittner. At a press conference on July 24, Pittner called Ivan Lexa a "gangster", and said that while boss of the Slovak Information Service, Lexa Jr. had been controlled by Russian mafia boss Sergei Mogiljevic.
Ivan Lexa has been charged with 15 crimes, including sabotage and abuse of power, which he allegedly committed while in charge of the SIS. According to the Interior Ministry he is in hiding abroad, and documents prove he applied for citizenship in the Caribbean nation of Grenada late last year (one record shows Lexa Jr. even pledged alleigance to the British Queen in order to qualify for citizenship).
Question: Do you know where your son is at the moment?
Vladimír Lexa (VL): I don't know, nor do I want to. If we want to get in contact with him, we know how to.
Question: Do you at least know whether he is in Slovakia or abroad?
VL: Right now I really don't know where he is. He's been here a number of times for check-ups with the doctor. He crosses the border in a normal way, and the border guards let him pass.
Question: The new SIS boss, Vladimír Mitro, submitted a report to parliament on February 12, 1999 which detailed the activities of the secret service from 1995 to 1998. Your son's name was attached to every instance in which the SIS acted illegally, including operations such as Neutron and Východ, the discreditation campaign against former President Michal Kováč, the participation of the SIS in the kidnapping of the president's son, the murder of Róbert Remiaš and so on. Are you still convinced that your son is innocent?
VL: I am quite convinced of his innocence. Secret services are always involved in various operations. And I think Ivan was sensible enough not to act against the law.
Question: If your son is innocent, why is he fleeing justice? Wouldn't he have a better chance of proving his innocence if he stayed in Slovakia?
VL: I think you're absolutely wrong here... Mr. [Interior Minister Ladislav] Pittner has an absolutely pathological hatred for my son. They [Pittner and Lexa] are really hurting each other. They say unpleasant things about each other. Pittner calls him 'Beriya' [after Chechen rebel leader Sali Beriya - Ed. note], while Ivan also has an unpleasant name for Pittner - he calls him 'the flat-footed general'. I don't agree with that [name calling]. There is hatred between them.
Question: Do you believe in your son as a citizen or as a father?
VL: That's an interesting question. In my opinion, Ivan is not nearly as bad as he is made out to be. He has been demonised. I know him, and I know that he sometimes has an explosive nature, and he has some characteristics I don't like, but he's certainly not a demon.
Question: Do you feel Pittner's statements have hurt your family?
VL: They have endangered the whole family a great deal. We get a lot of psychopaths around, even just now one of them is suing us for something related to radioactive substances. It's terrible. Imagine my grandchildren going to school [Ivan Lexa has a 10 year-old daughter and a 17 year-old son - Ed. note]. Kids can be cruel. They often upset my 17 year-old grandson, which then makes his sister, mother and grandparents unhappy. Nina, my grandaughter, sometimes doesn't even want to go to school... So many passions stirred up over one person, and the whole time it's not about Ivan but about Vladimír Mečiar. It hurts many people.
Question: How is your son's health?
VL: Not good. It's not pleasant to be isolated from everyone.
Question: Is it possible that your son will one day return to his home address? What would have to change for that to happen?
VL: Things would have to change in Slovakia. Slovakia's democracy is in danger. But I don't doubt that he'll return.
Question: When you talk of change, are you speaking of political change, such as the return of the [Mečiar-led opposition party] HZDS to power?
VL: I'm not saying the HZDS has to return, just that normal relations have to be secured.
Question: According to Pittner your son's life is in danger [Pittner agreed that the fact Lexa applied for residence permits in Grenada for himself, his wife and son - not his daughter - could mean his daughter was being held by the Russian mafia as a hostage - Ed. note]. Has your son confirmed this? Who could be threatening him?
VL: I think Pittner is the only one who knows the answer to that question. I don't think Ivan is in any danger. If he is, then again... (pause) But that would be libellous. I can't say that.
Question: How did your son manage to escape the country without being seen?
VL: I've told you, he has been abroad and back many times. And he was always waved through customs.
Question: A theory is circulating that your son's disappearance helps not only the opposition but also the ruling coalition, because he has access to material which could be used to discredit government officials.
VL: I know nothing about that. I never agreed with what Ivan did in the SIS. As a father I wasn't happy that my son got involved in those black crafts. From my previous position I know that those people [SIS officers - Ed. note] are terribly at risk and do the work of the government of the day. My son wasn't well enough prepared for this.
Question: According to our information you were in England from June 2 to 9, where you asked for permission to visit a Caribbean island that is known as a tax haven.
VL: I travel all over the world, and why not? I'm an old man and I like travelling.
31. Jul 2000 at 0:00 | Vladimír Lexa