AT ITS LAST session before dissolution ahead of September elections the Slovak parliament approved a law compensating political prisoners of the communist regime almost 13 years after the fall of totalitarianism.
According to the law, people who spent at least one year in communist prisons are entitled to Sk80,000 ($1,780) and Sk3,000 ($66) for each additional year.
Those who spent at least three months in prison will receive Sk20,000 ($440), while widows and widowers of former political prisoners will be entitled to half that sum.
The cabinet has granted Sk24 million to covering the compensations, while the same sum was provided by the now defunct Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) party.
After the fall of communism, local courts exonerated around 70,000 Slovak political prisoners. The number of people entitled to compensation is 7,050.
Ladislav Pittner, a member of parliament and head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, told The Slovak Spectator July 15 that "although suffering can't be translated into money, this is a gesture towards those who were unjustly punished, and it's a kind of moral satisfaction for the victims of communism."
The payments will come in three stages through the state-run Social Insurance company (Sociálna poisťovňa - SP). In the first stage, to be completed by the end of 2002, the insurance company will pay money to the 2,370living victims of the communist regime.
Everyone entitled to the payments should receive their money by the end of 2004.
But as the remaining funds, Sk455 million ($10 million), will have to be found by the next cabinet, some MPs dubbed the law irresponsible.
Marián Mesiarik, of the ruling coalition Civic Understanding Party (SOP) said "it gives the impression that the move was part of the pre-election campaign."
Did you know?
* The oldest living Slovak political prisoner is 100.
* The average sentence served by people entitled to compensation was 9 years.
* The total funds required to compensate all political
prisoners and relatives is Sk503 million ($11 million).