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Europe

Czechs Retain Ban on Public Service Jobs for Communists

Czech lawmakers voted to retain a law banning communist-era officials and members of the secret police from taking public service jobs.

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Still no jobs for ex-Communists in Prague's official circles

Last week Czech officials voted overwhelmingly to keep a 1991 law which bans communist-era officials and members of the secret police from public service jobs in the EU and NATO member country.

A Communist party proposal to drop the so-called purification law was rejected by 180 votes to 60 in the lower house of parliament.

Purification law

The purification law bans anyone who worked for or with the Communist party before 1989, senior communist officials, members of paramilitary communist militias, and students at secret police academies in Russia from taking certain jobs in administration, the justice system, armed services, media and majority-owned state enterprises.

The issue is highly controversial in the Czech Republic, where the Communist Party is one the rare ones in central and eastern Europe which has not reformed itself but still wins considerable voter support. It obtained 18.5 percent of votes in the 2002 general election.

The proposal to drop the purification law split the country's biggest party, the Social Democratic Party, some of whose members lined up with the Communists. The Communist Party is the third-largest party in the lower house.

The main opposition party voted against the proposal.

Prime minister stirs controversy

Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek stirred up a storm of controversy and a rift within his party and the ruling coalition when he signalled last month that he would support the communist proposal.

Paroubek argued that 16 years after the Velvet Revolution that toppled the Communist regime in 1989, the law should be repealed since it had already fulfilled its function. He later said there was no hurry for the law to be dropped.

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