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Czechs peer into lives of ‘Others’

Unveiling of secret police files proving awkward

The long-awaited opening up of Czech secret police files from before the Velvet Revolution is clearly not welcome news for everyone.

In a real-life echo of last year’s foreign-language Oscar winner “The Lives of Others,” the revelation of past ties by important artists and cultural figures to an authoritarian regime is proving awkward.

While that film centered on the legacy of East Germany’s infamous Stasi police, the Czech files link a number of entertainment figures to the secret Czech Statni Bezpecnost (StB) police employed by the communist leaders.

Lists of agents who worked for the StB network have turned up the names of folk singer Jarek Nohavica, long associated with the dissident movement, and actor Pavel Landovsky, who appeared on a London stage last week alongside ex-President Vaclav Havel discussing the anniversary of the Nov. 17, 1989, overthrow of the Czech communist state.

Nohavica has decried the publication of the lists, arguing they have made him a victim of the spy agency for a second time. But singer Jaroslav Hutka, apparently unconvinced, released a recording titled “Informer From Tesin,” which is aimed at the popular balladeer.

Thesp Jan Kanzyna also identified as a willing collaborator, says he was coerced into giving statements to the StB.

The agency was, in fact, known for threatening to list people as agents to induce citizens to inform, but the willingness of those who broke down is often in dispute.

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