Pop singer to fight allegation he collaborated with StB

'Trenes rigurosamente vigilados'

Well-known pop singer Vaclav Neckar, (who many will remember as the ill-fated 'Milos' in the Czech film Closely Watched Trains), has indicated he intends to fight an allegation he collaborated with the StB, communist Czechoslovakia's secret police. Earlier this week the Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny reported it had uncovered original documents allegedly revealing that Mr Neckar met sixteen times with an StB agent over a period of around nine years (from 1978 to 1987). According to Lidove Noviny, Mr Neckar was listed as an StB "confidant", expected to report on fellow colleagues including singer and close friend Marta Kubisova.

Mr Neckar has already reacted, making clear through a representative he would not take the allegation lying down. On Wednesday his lawyer Radek Ondrus spoke to public broadcaster Czech TV:

"Mr Neckar's name does not appear on any official lists naming StB agents or collaborators. He never knowingly collaborated with the secret police, one reason why we are going to apply for a copy of his lustration papers."

According to reports, Mr Neckar may also sue the organisers of the Trutnov Festival, an open air event where he is scheduled to perform this summer. Organisers there revealed they were likely to scratch Mr Neckar from the list of performers unless he provided some kind of written explanation. The head of the festival, Martin Vechet, told Radio Prague it would be inappropriate for anyone with StB connections to perform at Trutov, for both moral and historic reasons.

"The Trutnov festival has a very specific tradition which is unusual in western countries. The festival began on the basis of police persecution in communist Czechoslovakia, when police broke up gatherings and illegal concerts, held secretly on various farms. Young people met at such concerts and were dispersed by the police. It would be crass for anyone who even indirectly supported the regime to play at a festival like this one."

Mr Vechet concedes that the StB used all kinds of methods in the past to manipulate individuals and made clear he would prefer if dealings with Mr Neckar were resolved in a constructive fashion, such as an "open letter" of explanation which would allow the singer to still perform.

Vaclav Neckar and Marta Kubisova, photo: CTK
Meanwhile, several of Mr Neckar's colleagues have also come to the singer's defense. Marta Kubisova - one of those allegedly reported on - said Mr Neckar had actually helped her in difficult times under communism; she makes clear current developments will have no impact on their friendship. It is not yet obvious how far Mr Neckar will now proceed: his lawyer first wants an opportunity to assess the contents and "authenticity" of the documents uncovered by Lidove Noviny, before choosing whether to file charges and, if so, who to file charges against.