Popular singer and former prime minister accused of collaborating with communist-era secret police

Jaromir Nohavica

Recent days have seen a series of allegations of collaboration with the communist-era secret police. Less than 24 hours after the head of the Czech branch of Interpol was fired over his involvement with the StB, claims emerged that Jaromir Nohavica, one of the country's best loved singers, was an informer. Now - in the most serious case to date - former prime minister Josef Tosovsky has been accused of collaborating with the secret police.

"Everybody has his own cross to bear", goes one song by Jaromir Nohavica, perhaps the Czech Republic's most popular singer-songwriter. Nohavica's own particular burden could be his pre-Velvet Revolution past.

Lidove noviny says it has evidence he informed to the StB on the signatories of a petition to have Vaclav Havel released from prison in early 1989. The singer has refused to comment, but did ask the daily for copies of the StB files in question.

Josef Tosovsky,  photo: CTK
However, recent allegations against Nohavica and others have been overshadowed by reports in Mlada fronta Dnes that respected former prime minister and Czech National Bank boss Josef Tosovsky also worked for the StB.

Mr Tosovsky, now head of the Financial Stability Institute in Switzerland, is accused of collaborating when he was an advisor to the board of the Czechoslovak State Bank in the mid to late 1980s.

"He understands the importance of this co-operation and is interested in the work," the paper quoted his alleged file.

After initially refusing to comment, Mr Tosovsky (who passed security vetting) has denied the allegations. He also says former President Vaclav Havel knew all the details of his past when he made him interim prime minister in 1998.

Speaking on Monday, current president Vaclav Klaus asked how come such a thing was coming to light now, in 2007. Indeed, many Czechs are asking why - so many years after the fall of communism - there are suddenly so many allegations of StB collaboration.

Antonin Kostlan of the Institute of Contemporary History told Czech TV the reason was increased interest in the issue on the part of historians - and a new generation of researchers at the Interior Ministry's archive.

Meanwhile, journalist and former dissident Petruska Sustrova says the current wave of revelations are part of a natural process.

"I think it's natural after a decade in which there was little interest in uncovering the past. It's such an important issue and it always comes back. In Germany for instance real catharsis came in the 1960s. A new generation comes along which is more interested in the past."

The cases of Josef Tosovsky and Jaromir Nohavica are likely to run for some time. And with an estimated 17 kilometres of files coming to some 150 million pages in the Interior Ministry's StB archives, we shouldn't be too surprised perhaps if similar allegations keep arising for some time to come.