German Lawmakers Allegedly Informed for Secret PoliceBy Marjorie Miller
Los Angeles Times
The reformed communist Party of Democratic Socialism, fresh from celebrating its triumph in last week's federal election, was under siege Monday with allegations that some of its recently elected members of Parliament had been informants for the East German secret police.
The controversy centered on the party's charismatic leader, Gregor Gysi, after two influential national magazines reported that newly discovered documents have revealed that, as a lawyer in East Germany, Gysi informed on his dissident clients and received gifts from the secret police, known as Stasi.
Political opponents, including former Gysi client and leftist Greens Party legislator Gerd Poppe, called on the PDS leader to quit his seat in Parliament or clear up the charges.
Gysi has long maintained his innocence when it comes to the Stasi, and a parliamentary committee found no proof of any secret police activities on his part when they investigated eastern deputies after the 1990 election.
On Monday, he told ARD television, "I have not cooperated with the Stasi. I have not betrayed clients. Just the formulation of a suspicion cannot be sufficient for me to give up my seat."
Gysi aide Dieter Liemann dismissed the new charges as a tired campaign aimed at discrediting the reinvigorated party. The PDS won 30 seats in the 672-seat German Parliament on Oct. 16, in large part due to the dynamic style of Gysi, who was voted in for a second term.
"I think this is naturally connected with the election gains," Liemann said in a telephone interview. "If you want to weaken the PDS, you pounce on the most prominent person."
The scandal arises just days after the PDS pressured one of its own newly elected deputies, Kerstin Kaiser-Nicht, to give up her seat because of Stasi activities.
During the campaign, the 34-year-old Kaiser-Nicht reluctantly admitted that she had informed on fellow German students while studying Slav languages in Leningrad between 1979 and 1984. Eastern voters elected her anwyay, but PDS leaders said that she had shown no remorse for her activities and they did not want to work with her in Parliament.