Bachelor Jaroslav Bašta

* 1948

  • “When I was there, two things were still in effect, especially in the regions. First, the Soviet Union was slowly dying there with regard to personnel choices and policies and the such, and second, they were still running on a kind of Yeltsin model of ‘take as much independence as you can manage’, which often led to extreme situation, like in the case of Chechnya. This disputes appeared elsewhere as well. And then there was a third aspect, which was most prominent on the regional level but was also sometimes apparent in state-wide politics. Namely, a somewhat unfortunate system of direct elections. Because at the time, the Russian Federation used direct elections for voting in city mayors, governors - and the president. Most of them didn’t dare go straight up against the president, but during the time I was there, there wasn’t a single region with good cooperation between the elected mayor of a large city, or of the capital of the governorate, and the governor. Because they both felt that they had am equally strong mandate because they had been elected directly by the people.”

  • “The way it happened was that, between the time when I stopped with the bridges, that was in late February, and the job audition, which was on my birthday on 15 May 1990, I was asked by Ivan Dejmal - who was in the lustration committees at the Ministry of the Interior for the Civic Forum - if I would be willing to take his place, because he was on the line to be moved to the post of director of some institute. So I agreed, and then I got quite hooked by it, and finally, the day after I won the audition, I was asked by Honza Ruml, who had been made Deputy Minister of the Interior in the meantime and was in charge of the Institute for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy, whether I might stay there and join on as the director of the anti-terrorist department. So in the end I reckoned that archaeology is a science for calm, peaceful times, and that right now I should be doing something for my country, so I accepted.”

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    Praha, byt pamětníka, 01.02.2017

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Archaeology is a beautiful science, but there is no space for it in troubled times

Jaroslav Bašta
Jaroslav Bašta
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Jaroslav Bašta was born on 15 May 1948 in Pilsen. He attended primary school in Žatec, where his family moved to. He also attended the local grammar school. After graduating he worked as a trainee supervisor at Electro-Porcelain Louny from 1966 to 1967, after which he was accepted to study at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. In the years 1967 to 1970 he studied historical archaeology there. In 1970 he was arrested for his activities in the Revolutionary Youth Movement, and in 1971 he was sentenced to two and a half years of prison. Until 1988 he was employed as a worker - later (1988-1989) as a technician - at the state enterprise Roads and Railroads Construction. He signed Charter 77 already in December 1976, and he was active member of the dissent. In the 1980s he was active in the field of archaeology, he wrote more than 130 academic articles and studies. Soon after the Velvet Revolution he won the job of Director of the Pilsen-North District Museum, but he then took up the job of Department Manager at the Institute for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy. In the years 1990 to 1991 he served as deputy director of the secret service, and in 1991-1993 he chaired the Independent Committee of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (which assessed the degree to which a person participated in the oppression of the Communist regime - trans.). In late 1994 he joined the Czech Social-Democratic Party. He was elected into the Chamber of Deputies in 1996. He was vice-chairman of the Defence and Security Committee and a member of the Organisational Committee. He also chaired the committee that supervised the Security Intelligence Services. He defended his mandate in the 1998 elections. In 1998-2000 he served as a minister without portfolio in the government of Miloš Zeman. After leaving this post, he continued to serve as a member of the Parliamentary Defence and Security Committee. He gave up his mandate in the Chamber of Deputies in September 2000. In the years 2000 to 2005 he was stationed as Ambassador to the Russian Federation, and in 2005-2006 he served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was then appointed as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2007 to 2010. He is married, his wife Dana Baštová is an archaeologist. Upon going into retirement he began writing political commentaries and historical novels. Besides his literary activities, he is a speaker at various seminars and political debates.