Wednesday, 23 April 2014

MfD: Museum head fired over book praising communist period

22 November 2012

Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) - Zdenek Novak has ended in the post of Czech Museum of Agriculture head over its poor financial management, while the last straw for his sacking was the museum's patronage of a book praising the communist-era agriculture, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Wednesday.

In October, Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl (Civic Democrats, ODS) dismissed Novak, who headed the museum for two years, over discrepancies in the museum's financial management, MfD writes, citing the ministry's spokesperson.

Bendl said the last straw for him to sack Novak was the book "Czech agriculture through witnesses' eyes" that was issued under the museum's auspices.

Based on statistical data, the book's three authors analyse the development of Czech agriculture in the past six decades, praising the "normalisation period," or the communist hardliners' rule in the 1970s and 1980s, as extraordinarily successful, MfD writes.

The authors are critical of the developments in the 1950s, but only from the economic results' point of view, while completely ignoring the decade as the period of infamous forced collectivisation in agriculture, the paper writes.

The developments since late 1989, when the communist regime fell in Czechoslovakia, are assessed only negatively, which is reflected by a diagram of the gross agricultural output on the book's cover.

The diagram's curve sharply plummets as from November 1989.

The book assesses agriculture's development only in terms of the volume of production, almost ignoring other aspects such as the impact the communist style of farming had on the landscape, environment and people's lives, the daily writes.

One of the book's authors, Miroslav Toman, was agriculture minister in the last pre-1989 communist government.

Apart from the controversial book, the other reason behind Novak's dismissal was the museum's bad financial situation including a threatening shortage of money for the staff's pay, of which Novak reportedly failed to inform the ministry, MfD writes.

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