Sprayers of Communist hard-liners’ bust facing charges

Two artists could spend a year in jail if convicted of defacing image of controversial figure

Prague, May 2 (ČTK) — The Slovak police have leveled charges against two artists, Peter Kalmus and Ľuboš Lorenz, who sprayed red the memorial to Communist ideologist Vasil Biľak in his native village Krajná Bystrá, eastern Slovakia, in February, Czech daily Právo writes.

Kalmus and Lorenz also wrote “swine” on the memorial.

A police spokesman has confirmed that if convicted, the two men may be sentenced up to one year in prison.

The artists said they did not regret what they had done. They said Biľak (1917–2014) had been one of the authors of the “inviting letter” for the Warsaw Pact troops that invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Pravo writes.

“It is so preposterous that it makes me shiver. Biľak was a criminal, murderer and traitor,” Kalmus said.

“At first I only thought this was a sort of provocation,” he added.

The Communists advocated the unveiling of the memorial earlier, arguing that Biľak helped develop eastern Slovakia.

Biľak was a senior official of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSČ) and a chief party ideologist in 1968–88.

He was charged with high treason and breach of the law on the protection of peace over his signing the “inviting letter.

His prosecution was not completed as Russia did not hand the original of the letter to the Slovak court. In 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin gave a copy of the letter to then Czechoslovak president Václav Havel.

However, the Slovak Prosecutor’s Office interrupted the criminal proceedings with Biľak in 2011.

Biľak died unpunished last February.

The monument was devoted to Biľak by the Krajná Bystrá town hall that also bestowed honorary citizenship on him.

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