Doubts over security chief

FRANTIŠEK Blanárik, the head of Slovakia’s National Security Office (NBÚ), probably informed on an army colleague during the communist era, documents unearthed from the former Czechoslovak Army Counter-intelligence (VKR) archives suggest. TV Markíza reported the archive find on November 26.

FRANTIŠEK Blanárik, the head of Slovakia’s National Security Office (NBÚ), probably informed on an army colleague during the communist era, documents unearthed from the former Czechoslovak Army Counter-intelligence (VKR) archives suggest. TV Markíza reported the archive find on November 26.

The NBÚ conducts security checks and issues security clearances, known as licences, authorising people to work with classified information. NATO required that the NBÚ be set up as part of Slovakia’s accession to the military alliance, in order to ensure that sensitive information would remain secure.

During the communist regime, Blanárik was a professional soldier. TV Markíza alleged in its report that, according to the archive documents, he started collaborating with army counter-intelligence as a “confidant” in the 1970s.

Markíza quoted from Blanárik’s file, which states: “As a VKR confidant, he had very good results; he willingly and eagerly handed over facts characterising the ethical-political state of the troops trained.”

According to Markíza, in 1980 Blanárik underwent several months of training at the Intelligence Institute of the Intelligence Administration of the General Staff. “At the Intelligence Institute, he partially improved his expert knowledge of intelligence- and counter-intelligence work,” Blanárik’s file says, according to Markíza.

From 1981, he worked at an army unit in Levice. He was allegedly deployed there to inform on his colleague and friend, Ladislav B., who was suspected by counter-intelligence of having secretly hosted a family visiting from West Germany. Blanárik’s role was to confirm the information, according to the archived documents.

Blanárik allegedly visited Ladislav B.’s sister-in-law, whose husband had immigrated to the USA, TV Markíza reported.

“The confidant said that through his wife (who got the information from the wife of Major B.), he learned that in August 1983, a married couple from West Germany slept one night in the flat of B. As a reward for the lodging, Germans sent them a parcel,” Blanárik’s file continues, according to TV Markíza.

As a result of the information from Blanárik, Ladislav B. was stripped of his rank and transferred from Levice to Martin.

Blanárik denied having deliberately collaborated with military counter-intelligence in April this year, when the Nation’s Memory Institute published a list of collaborators from the database of the communist-era agency on which his name appeared.

“I learned about it in the recent past,” Blanárik told the Hospodárske Noviny financial daily in late April 2008.

Blanárik was given a full security check by the NBÚ in 2006 which cleared him to access the highest-grade information, labelled top secret.

Blanárik was nominated by a junior coalition party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), after the present government came to power. He became head of the NBÚ in September 2006. Before that he served, according to the online trade register, for one year (2001–2002) on the supervisory board of company Petina International, an arms-trading company.

According to his official curriculum vitae on the NBÚ website, between 2000-2005 he was marketing director for a private company. The company is not specified.

“He is a correct, serious person, who executes his office in a responsible way,” Peter Peniaška, the head of Petina International, said describing Blanárik to Hospodárske Noviny in September 2006, when Blanárik became head of the NBÚ.

Petina International was the subject of an October 12, 2003, story in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

A reporter, identifying himself as Brian Thomas, told Petina that he was calling on behalf of TRI, a company that provided security for diamond mines and oilfields in Rwanda, Algeria and other developing countries.

In response, Michal Kvanta, Petina’s commercial manager, sent the reporter a detailed quote to supply Igla anti-aircraft missiles for 27,000 pounds per missile, together with launchers and rocket-propelled grenades .

Asked by The Sunday Times to explain his readiness to supply the weapons to an unfamiliar client, Kvanta claimed not to have realised they were destined for Rwanda — although this was made clear in an initial fax sent to Petina International.

Rwanda was at the time covered by a United Nations arms embargo. Petina later defended itself by saying that there had been an administrative error by an employee.

According to security expert Milan Žitný, ‘confidant’ was not an intelligence category in the communist secret service. Someone registered by the communist-era secret police (ŠtB) as being in this category would not necessarily have known about it. All documents about him were prepared by an ‘operative’ employed by the ŠtB.

However, Žitný is convinced that Blanárik should not be acting as head of the NBÚ. “He should not be in that position - not because he has a file as a confidant, including scandalous information, but rather because he was an officer of the Czechoslovak socialist, non-democratic army,” Žitný told The Slovak Spectator.

Former interior minister Vladimír Palko also stressed that the documents about Blanárik, which were published by TV Markíza were not a reason for his dismissal. But he too is convinced that Blanárik is not qualified to act in his present capacity. According to Palko, Blanárik held military positions during the totalitarian period, and is thus connected with the former regime.

“In my eyes, Blanárik is more discredited by the fact that before, he was a central secretary of the HZDS. The Slovak Republic does not have good experience with the performance of functionaries from this party in the security forces,” Palko remarked to The Slovak Spectator.

It has been alleged that during Ivan Lexa’s tenure as its director, the Slovak Information Service (SIS), the country’s principal intelligence agency, was involved in the violent abduction of Michal Kováč junior, the then-president’s son, in 1995. Lexa was also nominated by the HZDS.

Blanárik became head of the NBÚ after serving as military attaché to Slovakia’s embassy in Ukraine.

Before that he had been central secretary of the HZDS, a position he left in November 2005, to become military attaché. He held the rank of major general in the army.

The HZDS, which is led by former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, took an interest in the NBÚ position after failing to get another nominee appointed as vice-director of the SIS.

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