Lubomir Strougal, prime minister of communist Czechoslovakia from 1970 to 1988, has died at the age of 98, Czech news website Seznam Zpravy announced Monday.
In 1958, at the age of 34, Strugal became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and served until the fall of the regime during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In 1959 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, followed by the Minister of the Interior two years later.
Follower of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms
Strugal condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, which destroyed a brief period of relative freedom known as the “Prague Spring”, but soon reversed his position and became prime minister, despite then-Soviet leader Leonid Borg Lezhnev had reservations.
A follower of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms in the 1980s, Strugal was amazed at the counter-reformation that prevailed within the Communist Party and resigned in 1988. He was replaced by Ladislav Adamec, the last leader of the country’s Communist government.
Like many Czechoslovak leaders in the era of totalitarian communism, Strugal escaped all attempts to hold him responsible for the regime’s crimes. In 1993 Czechoslovakia was peacefully divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.