State intelligence service (BIS) sacks Communist-era operative for fraud


Despite screening laws, former members of the communist-era intelligence services continue to hold positions of authority in today's modern equivalent, the BIS, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports. At least two high-ranking Czech BIS officers who received KGB training under the previous regime and worked with the Soviets to undermine NATO, now work in a politically sensitive BIS section tasked with uncovering agents from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

It was an internal investigation over a corrupt BIS official that led to the discovery of a kind of 'fifth column' within the ranks. BIS internal security had been investigating a counter-intelligence officer by the name of Jaroslav Kukacka for about 18 months. He was finally sacked two weeks ago for having allegedly taken money from private businesses in order to shield them from wiretaps and other investigations by the state intelligence service.

According to Mlada fronta Dnes, Mr Kukacka, has been charged with fraud, and not blackmail, because the businesses in question were willing to pay for his services. That case has now been turned over to the police.

But a matter of greater concern -- in terms of state security -- is that Mr Kukacka is also thought to have profited from selling classified information to foreign intelligence services.

Apart from the abuse of power issue, the fact that Mr Kukacka and others who were in the employ of the StB ever reached positions of authority at the BIS is a matter of grave concern.

A screening, or lustration, law was adopted in 1991 barring former senior communist officials and agents of the StB, the Communist-era secret police, from holding high-ranking positions in the civil service.

But Mlada front Dnes reports that the screening law has failed in its objective. Two other former StB officers now working at the BIS - namely, Bohumil Ridosko and Vladimir Palecek - worked in tandem with the KGB on secret operations against member states of the NATO military alliance. These two men continue to work in the BIS section tasked with uncovering agents from the countries of the former Soviet Union, the daily reports.

The BIS is widely seen as a professional and capable service; it is also one of the few national intelligence services that present an annual, public report on its activities. So politicians said they were shocked to learn that former StB agents still hadn't been properly vetted.

Senator and former dissident Jan Ruml, who in 1990 became this country's first post-communist Interior Minister, and who obviously was very involved in the initial screening process and oversight of the BIS, said he was "horrified" to hear how many former StB agents were in sensitive positions.

Current opposition MP Ivan Langer, the "shadow" interior minister, said much the same thing; that he was aware that former StB agents or officials went on to work in the new security apparatus, but was "alarmed" to learn the power some had attained.