The former TV programme announcer and host Milena Vostřáková – who was fired from Czechoslovak Television in 1969 for a single statement deemed as anti-Soviet – has died at the age of 77. Her family revealed the information on Friday. In March of 1969, after the defeat of the Soviet Union by Czechoslovakia at the Ice Hockey World Championships, Mrs Vostřáková called the victory not only athletic but ‘moral’ – a statement that would see her banned from the small screen and other media for 20 years. The Communists charged that her statement, which followed the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia by roughly half a year – was intended to stir up anti-Soviet sentiment. Mrs Vostřáková returned to the TV screen in 1990 and continued working in television for a number of years before retiring for good.
The Czech government’s efforts to outlaw the country’s communist party have suffered a setback. A report by the Interior Ministry, as quoted in the daily Lidové noviny on Friday, came to the conclusion that attempts to ban the party based on its political programme would have very little, if any, chances of being accepted by Czech courts. However, the cabinet is yet to debate the issue, and might decide to pursue the ban regardless of the report’s conclusions. More
Former political prisoners, government and parliament officials and cultural figures gathered in Pankrac prison on Monday to mark the 61st anniversary of the murder of democratic politician Milada Horakova after a show trial in the communist 1950s. Pleas for clemency by the likes of Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill a Eleanor Roosevelt failed to have any effect. The only woman murdered by the regime, Horakova became a symbol of anti-communist resistance. Gatherings commemorating the victims of communism took place in other parts of the country.
The Czech Supreme Court cancelled on Wednesday a 37-year-old verdict of a communist court which sent four young writers to jail for defamation of the Soviet Union and public disturbance. The four men, who spent up to a year in prison, got into trouble in the summer of 1973 in a Prague pub – when they sang an old song with slightly innovated lyrics. More
A museum documenting the atrocities of the communist era has opened in the border town of Rozvadov,at the site of a former heavily-guarded communist border crossing where many people were shot to death trying to escape to the West. Called Museum of the Iron Curtain, the permanent exhibition offers visitors a glimpse of life under communism, documented on a thousand photographs and some eight hundred artefacts, including a military transmitter and an authentic phone that was the communist president’s hot-line to Moscow.
Speaking at a conference marking the 60th anniversary of RFE broadcasts to Czechoslovakia, Prime Minister Petr Nečas highlighted the station’s role in toppling communism in central and Eastern Europe. He said that RFE had torn down the information barrier erected by the communist regime and served as a beacon of light, raising public awareness of democratic values and providing truthful information about what was happening behind the Iron Curtain. The conference opened with RFE’s familiar signature tune and the voice of announcer Ferdinand Peroutka who was among those who first addressed Czechs and Slovaks over the airwaves on May1st, 1951.
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the official launch of Radio Free Europe, the American-funded broadcaster which was established as an anti-communist source of information during the Cold War and is widely considered to have played a critical role in the ultimate collapse of communism. Now based in Prague, Radio Free Europe continues to provide news and information to countries where independent media reporting is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed. In this edition of Panorama, we look back at the history of Radio Free Europe, which is widely respected in many quarters, although it also has its detractors. More
Sixty years ago on Sunday, Radio Free Europe aired its first broadcast from Munich, to the then communist state of Czechoslovakia. Today, the radio station reports the news in 28 languages and 21 countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established. Its broadcasts are often regarded as a rare source of objective information. The radio station was born out of an American government initiative in 1949; a test version of its program was broadcast from a van near the Czechoslovak border in 1950. Until 1995, Radio Free Europe was based in Munich, from where it was moved to Prague to cut expenses. In 2002, its Czech-language broadcasts ended after over half a century for the same reason.
Deep beneath the city of Prague is another city altogether, one that most people are completely unaware of, and that they’ll hopefully never see. It is a system of hundreds upon hundreds of concrete bunkers with their own electricity, water and ventilation systems awaiting the day that you might hear the air-raid sirens wailing. More
How did communist propaganda brainwash people? What were the most frequent words used in the communist press? And was it at all possible to learn any real news from the censored newspapers? These are some of the questions a team of Czech linguists is trying to answer in their Dictionary of Communist Totalitarianism. More