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Communists Confirm Purge in Czechoslovak Central Committee

December 16, 1989

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ The Communist Party newspaper today confirmed that eight former leaders had either resigned or been removed from the party’s policy-setting Central Committee.

The purge appeared to be an effort to rid the party of longtime officials who have been discredited by the pro-democracy movement, which has forced the Communists to give up their monopoly on power.

The official CTK news agency had reported Thursday that ″several members″ of the Central Committee resigned.

The party daily Rude Pravo identified them today as former President Gustav Husak, Parliament speaker Alois Indra, chief ideologist Jan Fojtik and Ignac Janak, Slovak Communist party boss and Politburo member.

It said the following members were removed from the 140-plus body: Vasil Bilak, Karel Hoffmann, Josef Lenart and Miroslav Zavadil, all top-level officials and veteran hard-liners. They were removed by decision of the party’s ruling Politburo, the newspaper said.

Josef Hora, a Central Committee spokesman, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Frantisek Hanus, a member of the Committee’s secretariat, also had resigned.

Hora said the Politburo accepted all of the resignations on Wednesday.

As part of the democratic reforms sweeping Eastern Europe, Czechoslavakia’s first government dominated by non-Communists in 41 years took over Sunday.

There now appears to be a deepening split between hard-line and reform- minded party members that could lead to the establishment of a new democratic party. Some Communists have been pressing the party to adopt reforms to be able to compete with the opposition.

Party member Vasil Mohorita, elevated to the Politburo on Nov. 24, appears to be among the reformers, as do a loose association of Communists who have formed the Communist Democratic Forum.

The group’s spokesman, Rudolf Prevratil, told CTK on Friday that only the party congress, to be held Wednesday and Thursday, will tell ″whether this movement can live inside the Communist Party.″

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