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Former President Husak, 31 others, Suspended from Communist Party

December 22, 1989

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ The discredited Communist Party, trying to salvage its image as it prepares for free elections next year, is moving to purge hard-line members linked with repressive policies of the past.

Ending a two-day extraordinary party congress, delegates suspended 32 party leaders who are to be investigated for abuse of power, including former President Gustav Husak.

They also voted to expel Vasil Bilak, the party’s former chief of ideology, ″as a representative of forces who initiated the invasion″ by Soviet tanks and troops in 1968 that crushed ″Prague Spring″ reforms.

The party is trying to win the trust of the people it ruled for 41 years, persecuting its critics.

Bilak is viewed by many Czechoslovaks as the man most responsible for the inviting the Soviets to invade in 1968. He stepped down from the party’s ruling Politburo last year and from Parliament’s Presidium on Dec. 12.

During the congress, delegates voted in a progressive leadership, streamlined the party’s policy-making Central Committee and adopted an ″action program″ that rejected Stalinism.

The congress, attended by more than 1,500 members, also abolished a hated paramilitary force and apologized for persecuting those who disagreed with the party line.

The party’s stranglehold on power was broken during four weeks of peaceful mass protests that led to the formation on Dec. 10 of the country’s first non- Communist dominated government since 1948.

The month-old revolt forced the resignation of Husak, who took power after the Communist leader of the ″Prague Spring″ reform movement, Alexander Dubcek, was ousted and expelled from the party.

The party on Wednesday issued an unprecedented apology to the Czechoslovak people for the 1968 invasion and to those, like Dubcek, who suffered ″unjustified repression.″

Husak and the other party leaders were suspended for ″serious political mistakes″ which will be investigated by a special commission set up Thursday by the party’s new Central Committee.

Others who have had their membership suspended and will be investigated include Alois Indra, former Parliament chairman who resigned last month, Jan Fojtik, Communist Party ideology chief until Nov. 24, Ignac Janak, until recently head of the Slovak Communist Party and Lubomir Strougal, a former premier.

Former Politburo members Josef Lenart and Karel Hoffman, who with Indra and Bilak are often linked to the Warsaw Pact invasion, former Foreign Minister Bohuslav Chnoupek, who lost the post last year, and former Prague party boss Antonin Kapek also will be investigated.

″There is the possiblity that the commission during its work could expand the list,″ party spokesman Josef Hora told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

Results of the investigation, which could lead to expulsion from party ranks, are to be delivered at the regular party congress in May.

Party spokesman Hora said the streamlined 138-member Central Committee elected Thursday contains a majority of new faces. The old Central Committee had 156 members.

The ″action program″ adopted by the congress emphasized the break with the past and called for the party to become ″a modern political party which will become a party of the democratic movement of the European left.″

It also called for the rapid elimination of the ″Stalinist model of the party and society.″

The party began purging undesirable members in late November, beginning with hard-line party leader Milos Jakes, who was replaced by Karel Urbanek.

Urbanek lost the post he had held for four weeks on Wednesday, but he was elected Thursday to head the control committee responsible for overseeing finance and operations.

The all-powerful position of secretary-general was divided into two posts during the congress, which elected two men known for their ability to work with the opposition.

Former Premier Ladislav Adamec was elected party chairman and Politburo member Vasil Mohorita was tapped for first secretary.

Delegates voted Thursday to disband the despised paramilitary People’s Militia, which had already been disarmed.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced that it was dissolving the state secret police and transferring all equipment used for wiretapping and bugging from the phone company offices where it had been installed by the secret police to the Transport and Telecommunications Ministry.

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