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Vladimir Mlynar

The new Minister without Portfolio, who also handles affairs regarding national minorities, taking the place of Pavel Bratinka, is Vladimir Mlynar. A journalist, he decided to leave journalism after seven years working at the political weekly Respekt. This had already happened when Josef Tosovsky, appointed the difficult task of putting together a new government in December, asked him to join his cabinet. Mlynar is also the cabinet's speaker.

"I'll try to fulfil what brought me to accept this position in the government. That's to improve citizens' awareness and help to resolve the questions of the Roma minority," said the unaffiliated Mlynar concerning his participation in the government. Articles published in Respekt drawing attention to the dismal position of the Roma in Czech society and the government's program statement give Roma hope that their concerns will receive more attention from Vladimir Mlynar and the entire cabinet than they did from the last one.

Who is Vladimir Mlynar? A former dissident, he now smiles about his anti-state activity before the 1989 revolution. A journalist, he has grown so exhausted by journalism that he doesn't want to go back to it. He is the moderator of the discussion program Respektovani on Czech Television and the descendant of well-known Czech personalities. His grandfather, Stanislav Budin, was famous in his era as a journalist and editor-in-chief of Reporter, his father Zdenek was one of the actors in the Prague Spring of 1968, and his mother, Rita Klimova, was an English translator and a post-revolution ambassador to the United States.

Vladimir Mlynar was born January 15, 1966, and six months later his parents were divorced. He grew up with his mother, who he says had great influence on him, as opposed to his father. After finishing gymnasium (high school preparatory for university) in Prague, he was not accepted to university, so he began working as a hospital technician at the General Teaching Hospital in the Strahov section of Prague. In August of 1989, he left to work in the boiler of another hospital, which later became the editorial offices of the samizdat Lidove noviny newspaper. In addition, it also functioned as a way station for smuggled literature from abroad, and Mlynar passed on the banned literature to dissidents. After November 1989, he began working at the now legal Lidove noviny, though he left after a couple months due to disagreements over the concept of the newspaper and went to the United States to study for nine months. After his return, he was accepted into the editorial staff of the weekly Respekt, a year later he became the deputy editor-in-chief, and then editor-in-chief at the end of 1994. For his work in journalism, which he concluded in December 1997, he was decorated with Ferdinand Peroutka prize. The new minister is married and has two sons.

Vladimir Mlynar gave this interview on January 6, 1998 to Jarmila Balazova of the Romani Department of Czech Radio.

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