The Czech news outlet Seznam Zpravy reported on Monday that Lubomir Strougal, who presided as prime minister of communist-run Czechoslovakia from 1970 to 1988, passed away at the age of 98.
At the age of 34 in 1958, Strougal joined the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, the organization’s highest body, and remained there until the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when the government was overthrown.
In 1959, he was appointed minister of agriculture, and in 1961, interior minister.
Strougal condemned the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, which crushed the short-lived period of greater freedom known as the Prague Spring.
Despite criticism from then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, he soon switched allegiances and two years later was appointed prime minister of Czechoslovakia.
A fan of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms in the 1980s, Strougal was dismayed when an anti-reform wing prevailed in the party and stepped down in 1988.
He was replaced by Ladislav Adamec, the country’s last communist prime minister.
Like many Czechoslovak leaders of the totalitarian communist era, Strougal has escaped all efforts to hold him accountable for the regime’s crimes.
Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia peacefully in 1993.