An interview with former Hungarian leader Janos Kadar seems to contradict official reports he is gravely ill and suggests the path to reform is not entirely cleared.
Neither Kadar nor Magyarorszag, the conservative magazine publishing the interview Friday, indicate he is in the dire state of health claimed by party officials who stripped him of his last posts earlier this week.It is presumed they acted at the urging of Communist Party reformers troubled by increasing indications that Kadar played a role in official repressions after the 1956 anti-Communist revolt.
Kadar is rumored to have resisted the push for more democracy since he was replaced as Communist Party leader a year ago.
State television reported last week that Kadar's secretary, Robert Ribanszky, has found a conservative Communist Party faction that threatens to establish an independent, more hard-line party.
The first installment of the interview, to be serialized by the weekly magazine, is accompanied by a picture of the 76-year-old Kadar, casually dressed and relaxed behind a desk.
He refers to minor health problems in the interview - a rarity since his departure from the top party post.
Party Central Committee secretary Gyoergy Fejti told reporters Kadar was stripped of his honorary title of party president Monday because he is gravely ill in a "seemingly irreversible process."
The new party chief, Karoly Grosz, said this month that Kadar is disabled by lung disease.
State radio Tuesday reported that Kadar spoke incoherently at an April 12 Central Committee session. Other officials refer to serious mental and physical impairments.
Magyarorszag's motives for portraying Kadar in a more vibrant light and giving him a platform to recount his 32-year leadership were not immediately known. But the magazine may be in the control of anti-reformists.
Andras Kanyo, Magyarorszag's new chief editor, added to the mystery by refusing to tell The Associated Press when the interview with Kadar was conducted.