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In Slovakia, Secret Report Sparks Battle over Alleged Anti-semitism

November 3, 2003
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A political dispute has broken out in Slovakia over an allegedly anti-Semitic report produced for Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda by the country’s counterintelligence service.

The classified report, which examines allegations that a covert group of Slovak businessmen have been working to destabilize the country, refers to the Jewish background of one of the alleged conspirators, according to the daily newspaper Sme, which claimed Oct. 29 that it had obtained a copy.

Last August, Dzurinda announced that a covert group was operating to “cause scandals and promote negative media campaigns against Slovakia” by discrediting the SIS counter-intelligence service and Dzurinda’s Slovak Christian Democratic Union Party, or SKDU.

According to the newspaper, the intelligence report states that alleged conspirator Milos Ziak “is a Jew and his wife Marina is a Russian Jew with the maiden name of Meseznikova.”

The SIS denied the claim, arguing that it had never collected information on citizens according to their religion, origin, nationality or ethnicity.

The intelligence service also called for the newspaper to be prosecuted for leaking classified information.

Ziak’s brother-in-law, Grigorij Meseznik, a Bratislava-based political analyst, told JTA last Friday that Ziak was a businessman who had been caught up in a power struggle with other business interests, and that there was no truth to suggestions that Ziak had acted to damage the prime minister’s party or the state.

Meseznik also said he fears that comments linking Jews to alleged conspiracies could fuel anti-Semitism in Slovakia.

“This sort of thing can only strengthen anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists who blame everything on Jews, claiming that they create networks and use opportunities only for their own purposes,” he said.

Meseznik said publicity surrounding the report already had spawned anti-Semitic opinions in Slovak Internet discussion forums. JTA found several examples on Sme’s Internet news forum.

“An anti-Semite is a person who Jews don’t like — he is not a person who doesn’t like Jews,” one anonymous author commented on the Web site.

Another wrote: “Everyone who has tried in the last 50 years to show examples of coordinated, unfair activities by Jews has been expelled to the edge of society as a Nazi beast or a nationalist.”

Fero Alexander, executive chairman of the Central Union of Jewish Religious communities in Slovakia, said he would wait for confirmation of the report’s contents before commenting.

Opposition politicians, meanwhile, are calling for a full explanation from the SIS. Robert Kalinak, a senior opposition figure, said that he and his colleagues wanted to know exactly what was in the report.

“If there are these types of sentences in the report, it will be a big problem for the SIS,” he said.

Dzurinda has backed the SIS, saying he does not believe it is anti-Semitic. But Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, who received a copy of the report, criticized the process of using secret intelligence services to investigate businessmen.

“If someone really has done anything, I think it should be examined by police and not by politicians,” he told journalists.

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