PRAGUE — The top echelon of pubcaster Czech Television has been haunted by political skeletons from the country’s communist past.
Financial and programming director Frantisek Lambert, is the latest to admit his past as a former member of the People’s Militia, a special security unit assigned to protect the Communist Party before the 1989 revolution.
“I was formally added to the list” of the militia, Lambert told the Czech Television governing board in a Feb. 7 letter that has come to light, but he contends he didn’t join voluntarily and “never beat anyone.”
A Czech law known as Lustration, passed not long after the Velvet Revolution, forbids former supporters of the communist regime from holding top positions in the public sector and requires them to make full disclosures.
The governing board heard a report on the vetting problem Feb. 21.
Lambert’s confession has put heat on Czech Television topper Jiri Janacek, a longtime friend who hired Lambert in 2003, soon after his own appointment as general manager. Janacek has claimed in a letter to the governing board that Lambert gave him a “long and complicated story of his past” when he was hired but never made his collaboration clear.
“I admit I could have been tougher with Lambert,” Janacek said, “but I reject the idea that I broke the law on purpose.”
Now facing calls from the Czech Senate for his own head, Janacek is hoping to brush off the scandal as a misunderstanding and has yet to sack Lambert.
Janacek has worked for the station since 1989, first as a reporter, then a news anchor.