Sunday, 22 October 2017

Srp's ÚSTR nomination is chanceless provocation by Zeman

ČTK |
24 July 2017

Prague, July 22 (CTK) - The chanceless nomination of Karel Srp to the council of the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) is another in a series of provocations on the part of President Milos Zeman, which is his favourite activity, Josef Koukal writes in daily Pravo on Saturday.

Rather than for Zeman, the nomination poses a far bigger risk for Srp, who is known as the Jazz Section founder under the communist regime, Koukal writes.

Srp allows his reputation of an organiser of nonconform music events and a publisher of independent press in the 1970s and the 1980s to gradually fade away. As a result of the latest developments, he will also be remembered as a bidder who seeks any available post, Koukal writes.

In 1999, when Srp ran in the Senate by-elections for the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), then headed by Zeman, he experienced for the first time what it is like to face one's own dark past, Koukal writes.

He reminds that during the previous regime, the StB communist secret police twice registered Srp as their collaborator. Files in StB archives describe Srp having 150 meetings with StB officers and conveying 300 reports to them.

Srp-StB collaboration is also mentioned in the files the StB kept on "burdensome" pop musicians, who confirm the information as trustworthy now, Koukal writes.

Srp has admitted having played "a game" with the StB, Koukal says.

Seventeen years ago, Srp achieved a court verdict saying that he figures on the list of StB collaborators unrightfully. Hence the Presidential Office's message on Friday that he who mistrusts Srp, disdains Czech courts, Koukal writes.

It is hard to say who was the first to invent the possibility of using a court verdict to rewrite history. In any case, a number of high-ranking officials have used the chance so far, though it is very daring to assess whether an aide collaborated with the StB and helped them knowingly or unknowingly 30 and more years ago, Koukal writes.

Zeman never forgets about his fans. It was Srp, who hosted the first celebration of Zeman's victory in the early 2013 direct presidential election. Later in the same year, Zeman bestowed a high state decoration, a Medal of Merit, on Srp, Koukal continues.

This January, Zeman wanted to appoint Srp a member of the Ethical commission for rewarding members of anti-communist fight and resistance, but Srp's nomination was opposed by the commission as well as part of historians and even Jazz Section leaders.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) refused to countersign the nomination, as a result of which it fell through, Koukal writes.

The Senate, the upper house of parliament, is expected to decide on Srp's current nomination this autumn.

Zeman's attempt to push Srp through to the USTR Council has evidently no chance to succeed, Koukal writes.

Moreover, it is hard to say how Srp, an 80-year-old concert organiser with a controversial past, would help improve the USTR's quality as a scientific institution, if appointed, Koukal writes.

Zeman simply enjoys making such proposals, he adds.

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