Lubomir Strougal, who was considered an economic reformer and had been Czechoslovakia’s premier for more than 18 years, resigned Monday and also gave up his seat on the 12-member Communist Party ruling Presidium.
Peter Colotka, premier of Slovakia, also quit his job and membership on the Presidium, the ruling body that is equivalent to the Soviet party’s Politburo. Communist Party chief Milos Jakes announced the resignations at a plenary session of the party Central Committee, the official news agency CTK reported.
The shake-up in Czechoslovakia follows similar government reorganizations in the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland, as well as unrest in Yugoslavia.
The names of Strougal, Colotka and Foreign Minister Bohuslav Chnoupek came up in a corruption scandal last year.
Stanisdlav Babinsky, who ran a catering and supply operation in rural Slovakia, was sentenced to 14 1/2 years in prison. Nine other defendants also were sent to prison for “stealing Socialist ownership on a large scale for several years and committing other criminal acts.”
Babinsky named Strougal and Colotka during the trial, but it was not clear what favors they were supposed to have received. Chnoupek was said to have been given furniture, which he later paid for.
When he took over as party chief from Gustav Husak in December last year, Jakes said the fight against corruption would be among his priorities.
In his speech Monday to the Central Committee, Jakes also announced other changes in the Presidium, party secretariat, Central Committee and the federal, Czech and Slovak governments. Czechoslovakia consists of two republics of equal rights: the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic.
Strougal was considered a strong advocate of economic reform similar to that being promoted in the Soviet Union by President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, but his proposals were diluted and delayed by a party leadership that has appeared reluctant to follow the Soviet example.