Best-selling singer called ‘Snitch’ by dissident colleague

A controversy is currently disturbing the Czech Republic’s serene folk music scene. Singer-songwriter Jaroslav Hutka, who spent ten years in exile in Holland after having been forced out of communist Czechoslovakia in 1978, has had a go at Jaromir Nohavica, a best-selling and hugely popular songwriter. In his new song “Udavac” (“The Snitch”), Hutka accuses Nohavica of failing to explain his collaboration with the secret police in the late 1980s.

Jaroslav Hutka
The opening passage of one of the latest songs by Jaroslav Hutka entitled “The Snitch” refers to a singing police informer from Tesin, the Silesian home of singer–songwriter Jaromir Nohavica, an iconic figure of Czech folk music with massive sales. He released his first album in 1988 and was never persecuted by the communist authorities, despite being critical of the regime. Documents found in May last year showed that he was a collaborator of the Czechoslovak secret police, known as the StB. In his song, Mr Hutka also calls him a coward for failing to face his past and to explain his actions in the late 1980s. Jaroslav Hutka says he was in particular appalled by one specific report by Nohavica.

“I was upset by the most important denunciation of his; the one from August 1989, a few months before the revolution in November. According to the StB report, he was sent on a ‘business trip’ to Vienna, and he was given the task of contacting certain persons – Karel Kryl and Pavel Kohout. He met those people and he reported on them. There are many such issues that he simply must explain.”

Mr Hutka, who became one of the faces of the Velvet Revolution after previously being forced into exile, accuses Nohavica of providing the police with sensitive information on two prominent exiles: singer-songwriter and Radio Free Europe presenter Karel Kryl and playwright Pavel Kohout.

“It is a classic report; it should be included in readers. They are both well known personalities and people can have a good grasp of what was going on. And he simply refuses to comment. When Karel Kryl once asked him what the whole deal with the report was, he denied it all. Then this document appeared about a year and a half ago, and he disputed it. But there is nothing to be disputed about it. The document simply exists.”

Jaromir Nohavica refuses to comment on the issue. In an interview for the weekly Respekt last year, he said that he had been hoping to steady the situation and not get too involved with the secret police. “I was out with a hooker,” Mr Nohavica said, “I had coffee with her; but I never went upstairs with her.”