The dissident Karel Soukup will receive a pension just like the participants of the third resistance. Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) told journalists on Monday in Hradec Králové. He repeated that he is ready to help solve the problem of low dissident pensions, for which Jurečka earned criticism from Charter 77 signatory Jiří Gruntorád. Gruntorád went on hunger strike to support his demand. Soukup spent a significant part of his life outside the Czech Republic in forced emigration.
“Today I decided that Karl Soukup should be granted an average pension just like the participants of the third resistance, as the law says since 2011,” said Jurečka. “If there is a situation here where Karl Soukup is not being paid a pension from the Australian side, we are trying to find out why and help him get that pension paid. Until this is corrected, he will be granted a pension in the amount of the average pension, as is the procedure for other participants in the third resistance,” said the minister.
Nevertheless, Grutorád continues to insist on Jureček’s resignation and continues the protest. He previously stated that he and other dissidents wrote a letter to Prime Minister Petr Fial (ODS) last August and asked for a solution. They received the answer that they can request the removal of the harshness of the law, i.e. the recalculation of the pension. One of them turned to Jurečka with this request, according to available information it was Soukup, while the minister rejected it, recommending social benefits. The press department of the ministry announced on Saturday that Jurečka ordered a new examination of this particular case. According to the Ministry, the decision on the current partial Czech pension was based on the fact that Soukup spent a significant part of his life outside the Czech Republic and should have a foreign pension.
Seventy-two-year-old Karel Soukup emigrated in the 1980s under pressure from the StB, and later settled in Australia. He is a signatory of Charter 77, in 2020 he received the ÚSTR Award for brave civic attitudes during the communist dictatorship.
“At the same time, I instructed the Czech Social Security Administration to re-examine all requests that arrived at the Czech Social Security Administration, which were related to easing the harshness of the law for persons who were persecuted by the communist regime, and to reassess these requests,” said Jurečka.
The small pensions of opponents of the communist regime are often followed by imprisonment, forced emigration or the inability to work. Thus, they could not pay the levies long enough. Many people were also not allowed to work in their original profession and only performed auxiliary work with low earnings, which was reflected in a low pension. Not all of them received pension supplements for resistance fighters.
“We are ready to resolve a 34-year debt to the past. Why it’s taking so long is a fair question, but I’m not in a position to answer that. This is a question for all my predecessors, for all governments of the past,” said Jurečka.
According to him, there is a clear determination on the part of the entire government to help solve this situation. “There is no reason for Jiří Gruntorád to go on hunger strike and destroy his health. I’m sorry that this situation happened, I apologized for it on Sunday,” added the minister. The management of the ÚSTR defended Jurečka today, according to him, the minister has been dealing with the issue for a long time.