Scary movie

Philippe Riboton

WHEN NOVEMBER 1989 saw a Velvet Revolution take place in former Czechoslovakia, rumor has it that the secret police numbered about 12,000 active agents. What was not so precisely counted, however, is the number of informants that cooperated with the infamous StB: in the hundreds of thousands, according to various estimates. Take any group at the time – a classroom, a football team, or a symphony orchestra – and you could say that 10-12% of its members were StB collaborators in one way or another. It also follows logically that 10-12% of the people that started a new life in the market economy in the early 90’s had also cooperated with the secret police. Some of them became stars in their own world, whether as lawyers, economists, bankers or industry captains. Everything went pretty well for them, as nobody ever publicly questioned their past, so they found themselves free to recreate their old networks. Even international companies starting out here would turn to them, in order to take advantage of new opportunities, as they had contacts to “the right people”. When occasionally asked what they used to do before the revolution, they would explain how they passively resisted the communist regime and how much they were oppressed by the system. That is, until a particular day in March this year – when their name appeared on a list published by the ministry of interior, making public and official their activity for the secret police. When asked by The Prague Tribune to express themselves on the issue, most of them either refused to answer, or flatly denied their StB affiliation. Quite interestingly, most insiders will tell you that a lot of names are missing in this list, which could be interpreted several ways: some were in a position at the time of the so-called revolution that allowed them to simply erase themselves from those lists. Another possibility suggests that the exact same people still have the exact same influence in today’s society, and may still serve some common interests. Makes for a scary movie, doesn’t it?

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