ONE of Slovakia's most widely read dailies, SME, suspects the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) of an anti-Semitic move.
After facing suspicions of having illegally tapped the phones of politicians and journalists and being widely criticized for its practices by Slovak and international media, including the British magazine Jane's Intelligence Digest, the latest allegations are another blow to the public credit of the country's intelligence service.
According to SME, the lead paragraph of a classified SIS report that President Rudolf Schuster received recently at his own request reads "Miloš Žiak is a Jew and his wife Marina is a Russian Jew, born [with the maiden name] Mesežnikova."
The daily said that two trustworthy sources have confirmed the authenticity of the quote.
In response to the story, SIS filed a motion at the attorney general's office over suspicions that classified information was leaked.
Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda resolutely rejected any claims that the SIS, or any other state institution, held anti-Semitic attitudes. He refused further comments, saying that the information was classified.
The report sent to Schuster listed the risks that former director of the National Security Office Ján Mojžiš represented to the state. Schuster requested the report after learning from media that SIS boss Ladislav Pittner had sent a letter to Dzurinda containing information about Mojžiš.
According to SME, several politicians and analysts dubbed the sentence on the Jewish origin of Žiak anti-Semitic.
Žiak, an entrepreneur and head of the Israeli chamber of commerce, is believed to be among the members of an unspecified group that, according to Dzurinda, has been harming the state's interest.
Žiak, who is a member of the board of directors of the pension fund VSP Tatry, said that his personal conflicts with Pittner are the most likely reason for the PM's claims.
"The report is classified and we will not comment on it," presidential spokesman Jan Füle said.
Political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov, who is the head of the Institute for Public Affairs think tank and a brother of Žiak's wife, said that the sentence "Miloš Žiak is a Jew," reminded him of anti-Semitic sentiments spread by a war-time pro-Nazi Slovak political party, Hlinka's Slovak People's Party, before the second world war.
Another analyst, Ivo Samson from the Slovak Policy Association, also dubbed the quote an "expression of anti-Semitism."
SIS, however, said that intentions to damage the credit of the intelligence service were behind the affair.
According to an official SIS statement, the intelligence service has "never collected information on people based on their religion or ethnic origin, only exclusively on their attitude towards the country's laws".
In an earlier interview published in SME, Žiak said his first clash with Pittner came in 1993 when Pittner said that, after the fall of communism, the new ruling forces made certain agreements with representatives of the old communist regime that had to be respected by those that came to power later.
"At that time, I publicly asked Pittner to explain what agreements he had with [secret police of the communist government] ŠtB members," said Žiak.
According to Žiak, the second dispute occurred before the 1998 parliamentary elections after Pittner made anti-Semitic remarks in an interview with the Domino fórum weekly.
The material that Schuster received recently that contained the allusion to Žiak's Jewish identity is also part of a recently halted criminal prosecution.
On October 28, special prosecutor Ján Bernát halted the prosecution related to an alleged information leak from a security clearance file about Mojžiš.
Bernát said that the information that SIS had earlier sent to Dzurinda did not contain information from the Mojžiš screening file and was original SIS material.
The prosecutor said Dzurinda and Pittner did not break any laws and had not abused their power or exposed confidential data.
In early September, Dzurinda announced that he had lost trust in Mojžiš and proposed his recall, without specifying his reasons.
Lukáš Fila contributed to this report.
3. Nov 2003 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová