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KGB May Have Played Role In Revolution, Commission Says

May 10, 1990

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ The KGB may have played a role in the peaceful revolution by influencing Czechoslovak security forces, the state news agency CTK said Wednesday.

The agency cited the sketchy findings of a parliamentary commission investigating the Nov. 17 attack on protesting students, an event that sparked the swift popular revolt against more than four decades of Communist rule.

According to CTK, the commission said it had been unable despite six months of work to form a clear picture of events.

″The key to understanding the events of November 17 ... is especially in the obviously illogical inactivity of the ministry of Interior in the days that followed November 17,″ the commission reported, according to CTK.

″State security did virtually nothing, although it had precise reports on what was happening,″ the report continued. As quoted by CTK, it hinted without specifics that some kind of a ″second center″ existed inside the security forces and directed events.

The report said the commission was ″so far unable to to expose all culprits, identify the ‘second center,’ those who directed the events, and give the public a satisfactory explanation.″

The report said Lt. Gen. Antonin Lorenz, considered a key figure in the Interior Ministry, had dinner Nov. 17 with a man it identified only as Groshko, a deputy chairman of the KGB and chief of its counterintelligen ce.

A KGB official reached by telephone in Moscow said Wednesday the organization has a deputy chairman named Viktor Grushko.

The report said Lorenz made some 20 phone calls during the 90-minute meal.

It said Lorenz visited Moscow in August and September, where he held talks with KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov and both his first deputies. But it stressed the content of the talks was not known.

Months before the uprising, rumors circulated in Prague hinting that Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was dissatisfied with the rigid Prague regime and pressing for more democratic change.

Two days after the Nov. 17 beatings, dissidents established the Civic Forum movement that eventually guided the revolution. Strikes and street protests spread around the country by Nov. 20, unhindered by police.

Police allowed the dissidents, otherwise detained ″on every significant anniversary, to establish in peace and quiet the Civic Forum and overthrow the regime,″ the report said.

By Nov. 24, the orthodox chief of the Communist Party, Milos Jakes, and his Politburo allies had been ousted.

Lorenz is currently in custody pending investigation of charges that he abused the power of a public official.

Miroslav Stepan, a former Prague Communist Party boss, is also in custody pending results of a similar investigation.

Stepan and Jakes have denied they ordered the attack Nov. 17.

If found guilty, Stepan and Lorenz could spend up to 10 years imprisonment.

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