Slovak Communists on Saddam’s Payroll?

From today’s The translation is mine.

Slovak Communists Deny Collaborating With Saddam

BRATISLAVA, 29 January 2004 | 11:24 The opposition Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) is allegedly on the list of parties that were supported by the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, an editor of the French newspaper Le Monde confirmed. The communists deny any cooperation with Hussein.

The party, which is led by Jozef Å evc, the son-in-law of Czechoslovak party official Vasil Biľak, may have received payments in return for its stance, TV Markiza reported.

Markiza confirmed that Slovak communists were on Hussein’s list was confirmed by an editor at Le Monde without further details on whether the KSS did receive payments for its stance on the dictator’s regime. The French press was informed of the list, which was published Sunday by the Iraqi paper Mada.

“It doesn’t sound like a reliable report to me. It’s possible that the former Czechoslovak Socialist Republic traded a lot with Iraq,” KSS vice chairman Karol Fajnor reacted. “We didn’t have anything to do with it.”

The affair is being investigated by the Slovak branch of Interpol, in conjunction with Slovak diplomats in Iraq. Bratislava is waiting for official documents from Baghdad.

Slovak communists were hardened opponents of the American attack on Iraq, and voted in Parliament against Slovak soldiers’ participation in the mission. The KSS also took a stand against the air strikes on Serbia in the era of Slobodan MiloÅ¡evič.

The published list has to do with people who were rewarded by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for helped evade the Iraqi oil embargo. There are about 270 names, among which are 11 French, including the former Interior Minister Charles Pasquy and former UN ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée.

According to Le Monde, Saddam provided these people with a certain amount of crude oil, which they could then sell on the market with a profit of one or two cents. The profits could have gone into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are allegedly individuals from 46 countries, including two French Prime Ministers and two Foreign Ministers. The information is from 1999, but Le Figaro alleges that the system of bribes was functional until the second half of 2002.

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