Pavel Minarík, was born June 29, 1945 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. He was trained to be a plumber, worked for the Východočeský Theater in Hradec Kralove for one year, then worked in a steel foundry Slatina in Brno for another year. In 1965, Radio Brno hired him as a radio broadcaster.
From December 1967 to May 1968, in Brno, he was trained to be a professional, paid agent of the First Administration of the former Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs (StB). He was given the cover name of ULYXES. In spring of 1968, he underwent special intelligence service training by the StB. Among the topics he was taught were:
- establishing contacts,
- information collection methods,
- creating cover stories,
- maintaining contact with the StB, Czechoslovak emigre centers,
- espionage of the U.S., West Germany, and Great Britain,
- secret writing,
- use of dead letter drops,
- detection of listening devices,
- counterespionage including defense against observation and provocations,
- determining if letters were opened.
Minarik was given the task of getting hired by Radio Free Europe. He signed a contract with the StB before leaving for the West with the conditions:
- He would be allowed to keep his Czechoslovak citizenship;
- He would maintain seniority in the StB; in case of sickness or personal danger,
- He would be allowed to return to Czechoslovakia; and
- He would continue to receive 400 Crowns per month while he was in the West, plus 3000 Crowns for his personal expenses.
On September 5, 1968, he “emigrated” to Austria, applied for a job in the RFE office in Vienna and by the end of 1968 was hired as a full time employee in Munich. His supervisor celebrated when he heard Minarik's voice over RFE on November 19, 1968. Minarík worked under the cover name ULYXES and then from 1972 as PLEY.
- In Munich, he monthly would supply his intelligence supervisors based in Franfkurt, Germany, with reports and miscellaneous materials, which he stole or photocopied at the Radio Free Europe headquarters (before consolidation with Radio Liberty). Minarik reported on,
- RFE directives and regulations,
- The ways Americans controlled the work of the station,
- Activities of different Czechoslovak émigré organizations and individual emigrants,
- Activities of dissident publishing houses, on published émigré literature,
- Mostly, however, he focused on gossips (who slept with whom, who got drunk, who got in troubles), and other compromising issues to uncover week spots of RFE employees, and even marked potential intelligence service collaborators.
- Obtaining keys to several apartments, searched them, secretly looking for interesting documents.
Reportedly, there are 15-20 files of Minarik’s information, each file has 15 microfiches and each microfiche contains 70 typewritten pages——or possibly a total of 21,000 pages.
In 1972, he applied for membership in the Communist Party and became a member retroactive to 1969.
Code Name Panel
Lis - Necasek
When Minarik traveled to Vienna, Austria he met his supervisor Jarosloav Lis (code name Necasek). At a meeting in Vienna with Jaroslav Lis in April 1970, Minarik first proposed a bombing of Radio Free Europe, which he would personally execute. The bombing of RFE was given the code name “Panel.” On November 20, 1971, Minarik again traveled to Vienna and met Lis for two days. They continued with the bombing discussions.
In June 1972, prior to the Olympics in Munich, Minarik made one more proposal to bomb Radio Free Europe during the Olympics, which he believed would force the German government to close RFE. The Czechoslovak intelligence service did not accept Minarik’s proposal.
RFE's Master Control
Corridor of RFE
On November 11, 1972, Minarik traveled to Vienna, met Lis, and gave him the floor plan, films, photographs and detailed information on where to place the bombs. e.g., just outside RFE's Master Control (Minarik's photos left and right). He brought up the plan with his superiors in October 1973, July 1974, and for the last time on July 24, 1975, when he gave Lis a photograph of the corridor in RFE where Master Control was located.
Minarik Press Conference
It was then revealed on Prague Radio that he was “an intelligence officer who had waged a seven-year spy operation inside the Radios.” Soviet and East European media gave extensive coverage to revelations which included attacks against both radios, the naming of individual employees, alleged CIA connections, etc. The StB wrote a short summary of justifying his return at that time:
Letter of September 30, 1975
A preliminary draft of operations aimed against RFE, Advisory Council, and some Czechoslovak émigrés.
In September 1968 our agent PLEY was sent to Munich to infiltrate RFE headquarters. The operation was carried out successfully. PLEY familiarized himself with RFE policies, atmosphere and environment, established contacts with almost all 1968 emigrants who worked at RFE. He provided many documents, including directives of the US management, copies of correspondence of some RFE employees, etc.
During his stay he met prominent Czechoslovak exiles … According to our instructions, he was active in different émigré organizations and took part in important meetings of the top Czechoslovak exiles.
Due to the current cuts and layoffs in RFE and in connection with the upcoming 15th Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the situation seems favorable for bringing agent PLEY back to Czechoslovakia and presenting him to the media as a successful communist agent who had worked for RFE to uncover and make public the station’s hostile activities against the socialist countries, and disclose bad morale of the RFE employees.
At the end of 1976 he left for the Soviet Union to study at the Institute for International Relations in Kiev, under code name NEUMANN. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1981 and received his business degree, later PhD in political science, and began working as a consultant for the 31st department (ideological diversionist center) of the 1st Administrative Division of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. In 1982, he as awarded the medal "For Service to the Country," a police medal and the Polish "Medal of Merit."
In 1983 he became chief editor of the weekly magazine SIGNAL, which published "documents" about Radio Free Europe.
He was chosen for the following reasons:
- He is a politically-mature and class-conscious member of the Communist Party.
- His theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the field of mass propaganda and journalism correspond with the required standard.
- He shows initiative and responsibility in his approach to the assignments.
- He has political, technical and moral skills needed to perform the task well.
After the Velvet Revolulion in Czechoslovakia, Minarik was investigated and eventually indicted in May 1993, for a terrorist act: planning to bomb RFE. On May 3, 1993, Minarik was charged by Czech Public Prosecutor with,
having in the time period between 18 April 1970 and 24 July 1975, as a paid secret agent of the former First Administration-Czechoslovak intelligence-of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs of the former Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR), sent to infiltrate Radio Free Europe in Munich, German Federal Republic, worked out and passed on to the Prague headquarters of the I. Administration at least three alternative and very concrete proposals on how to accomplish the destruction of the building of Radio Free Europe in Munich with the express aim of terminating its broadcasting operation.
Minarik was put on trial, found guilty, acquitted on appeal. The prosecutor then appealed, and there was another trial. This cycle continued until April 2007, when the Czech Supreme Court rejected the last government appeal and closed the case with his acquittal.
His legal troubles did not end, however: in October 2009, he High Court in Olomouc, Czech Republic sentenced Pavel Minarik, for an insurance fraud, to six years imprisonment. He appealed the decision. According to the charges, Minarik's company exported overpriced optical fibers that he had insured for tens of millions of Czech crowns to Ukraine in 1996. His accomplices then set the consignment on fire in a simulated car accident behind the border in order to claim insurance money from the Cooperative insurer. Minarik then received 6.5 million Czech crowns in compensation for the loss from Cooperative. He had rejected the insurer's offer to provide new fibers for him. He won his appeal and the case probably will be retried sometime in 2011.
For more information on these hostile intelligence activities see my article "The ether war: hostile intelligence activities directed against Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the émigré community in Munich during the Cold War," The Journal of Transatlantic Studies, August 2008. And my book, Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989.
In the Czech language with a summary in English and German, Prokop Tomek, Československé bezpečnostní složky proti Rádiu Svobodná Evropa: "Objekt ALFA. Úřad dokumentace a vyšetřování zločinů komunismu, 2006.
For an interesting look at the Pavel Minarik case, there is a Radio Prague program from 2009 (http://www.radio.cz/en/section/archives/pavel-minarik-and-the-cold-war-on-the-airwaves), which includes an excerpt from the original radio call sign of the RFE Czechoslovak Service:
If there was one sound guaranteed to infuriate Czechoslovakia’s communist leaders during the 1970s and 80s it was the call-sign of the US-funded Radio Free Europe, broadcasting from Munich to the countries of the Eastern Bloc.