Former Czechoslovak Communist party ideology chief Vasil Bilak, the last surviving hardliner who sent a letter of invitation to Soviet leaders, officially justifying the Warsaw Pact invasion that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement in 1968, has died in Bratislava at the age of 96. Bilak was charged with high treason in 1991 but the case was later closed for lack of evidence. I asked prof. Jan Rychlik, who specializes in Czechoslovak history, how Vasil Bilak will be remembered. More
For many Czechs, Russia’s Natalya Gorbanevskaya was nothing less than a hero, one of eight people in 1968 who protested on Red Square in Moscow against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. All of the protesters were arrested and as punishment she was sent to a psychiatric hospital. A few years after her release in 1972, she emigrated to France where she continued to work as a poet translator and human rights activist up until her death at the age of 77 last week. More
In a chilling echo of the past, Russian police on Sunday arrested a group of human rights activists commemorating the 45th anniversary of a 1968 protest against the Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Although the protesters were reportedly detained for taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and soon released, the move has evoked widespread condemnation in Prague. More
Ten people were detained by the police at Moscow’s Red Square on Sunday, after a small commemoration of a demonstration held at the same place exactly 45 years ago in protest of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Around a dozen people held up a sign with the same slogan as was used in 1968: “For your and our freedom.” The demonstrators stood silently for approximately 10 minutes, after which they were led away by the police. The only person who was not detained was Natalia Gorbanevskaya, who was among the protesters 45 years ago. On August 25, 1968 eight people who held up signs with slogans on the Red Square in protest of the Czechoslovak occupation were arrested after only a few minutes. Seven of them were sentenced to years in prison, internal exile or forced psychiatric treatment.
This week the 45th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia was commemorated in this country. What some may not realize is that many of the iconic images from the tumultuous August of 1968 appearing in the media belong to one person – Josef Koudelka. A world renowned photographer whose career spans almost six decades and across all of Europe, Mr. Koudelka decided six years ago that he wants his life’s work to have a home in the Czech Republic. More
On Wednesday, Czechs marked the 45th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion that crushed the period of reforms known as the Prague Spring. They weren’t alone: reaction also came from Sofia, where artists overnight anonymously sprayed an infamous Soviet-era monument pink. With the words ‘Bulharsko se omlouvá’, they apologised for Bulgaria’s role in the 1968 invasion, a gesture that did not go unnoticed and made world headlines. More
The Czech Republic is marking the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. A traditional commemorative ceremony took place on Wednesday morning in front of the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská St., attended by Prime Minister Jíří Rusnok, outgoing chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament Miroslava Němcová and other dignitaries. Various civic associations will hold related events on the main squares of the capital and elsewhere around the country. Over 100 Czechoslovaks were killed in the invasion, when an estimated 500,000 soldiers invaded their country in the early hours of August 21 1968 in order to quell the Prague Spring reform movement.
In the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, unknown artists painted a monument to Soviet soldiers pink and wrote “Bulgaria is sorry!” in Czech and Bulgarian under it on Tuesday night. According to a Bulgarian server Dariknews, the artists did this on the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces in order to underline the role of the Bulgarian armed forces in the invasion. The Bulgarian government was one of the strongest proponents of the invasion in 1968, and it was also one of the last countries involved to formally apologize after the regime change.
Wednesday marks the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the armies of the Soviet Union and other communist countries. The invasion shocked the nation, and ushered in a long period of political and moral decline. More than a hundred people died during the invasion, some of whom were killed in defence of Czechoslovak Radio. On Wednesday, several Czech top officials, witnesses and dozens of guests marked the anniversary outside the Czech Radio building in central Prague. More
Internationally-recognised photographer Josef Koudelka signed a contract with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague (UPM) on Monday confirming he is donating a collection of 537 of his photographs to the museum. The collection represents the apex of the photographer’s work. The first half of the collection will be delivered in half a year. The second half, forming part of current retrospectives being exhibited abroad, will be delivered later. The collection is estimated as being worth tens of millions of crowns. Part of the deal is a planned retrospective of Mr Koudelka’s work at the UPM in 2018. The collection will formally retain the status of being on loan until the threat of Czech artwork being seized abroad (due to ongoing arbitration cases) subsides.