Lubomir Strougal, Communist leader of Czechoslovakia, dies at the age of 98

Lubomir Strougal, a communist-era Czechoslovakian leader who served as prime minister for a record time more than 18 years, has died

PRAGUE — Lubomir Strougal, a communist-era Czechoslovak leader who served as prime minister for a record time of more than 18 years, has died. He was 98.

His death was confirmed to the media by former Communist Party lawmaker Jiri Dolejs on Monday. No details have been given.

Strougal was appointed prime minister in 1970, when the country was ruled by a hardline communist regime established following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The Warsaw Pact troops invaded in August 1968 to crush political reforms and anti-communist protests during the period known as the Prague Spring.

Strougal initially opposed the invasion but later joined the hardliners.

After Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced a reform program known as “perestroika,” or restructuring, Strougal was seen as a pragmatic reformer.

But the hardliners led by Milous Jakes prevailed, with Strougal stepping down in 1988 — a year before the Velvet Revolution led by Vaclav Havel ended more than 41 years of communist rule.

Legal efforts after 1989 failed to hold Strougal responsible for the communist-era crackdown and the deaths of people killed on the Czechoslovak border while trying to flee to the West.

Born on October 19, 1924 in Veseli nad Luznici, Strougal was a leading member of the Communist Party for three decades and also served as minister of agriculture and minister of the interior before becoming prime minister.

He retired from politics in 1989 and was expelled from the party a year later.


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