Czech President Miloš Zeman is to award the Order of T.G. Masaryk to František Kriegel, a late Communist politician who was the only person to refuse to sign a document “legitimising” the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Also set to receive a high honour at Prague Castle on October 28, the anniversary of the country’s foundation, is a student who lost his life last year protecting a classmate from a school attack. The Medal for Heroism will go to Petr Vejvoda, who died at his school in Žďár nad Sázavou after a woman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia began randomly attacking students.
A monument to senior Communist Vasil Bil’ak, who sent a letter of invitation to the USSR that was used to justify the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, was vandalised just hours after being unveiled in his Slovak hometown of Krajná Bystrá, the news site SME.sk reported. A Slovak artist and an associate daubed red paint on a bust of Bil’ak along with the word sviňa (pig/bastard). Bil’ak, who died a year ago, was charged with treason in 1991 but the case was dropped for lack of evidence.
Today in Mailbox: "Zed" or "zee", Radio Prague's signature tune, listeners' quiz. Listeners/readers quoted: Colin Law, Joanna Shelton, Hans Verner Lollike, Valery Lugovskiy, Mary Lou Krenek, P. Sivashanmugham, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Deblina Biswas, Dipita Chakrabarty. More
One on OneTwo years after Revolution my most exciting period at Radio Prague, says former chief Jan Valeška
The name Jan Valeška will be familiar to very long-term listeners of Radio Prague. After a stint at the station’s African service that began in the early 1970s, he returned to head the English department in the initial years after the Velvet Revolution. Valeška subsequently worked as a translator and two years ago published a huge dictionary of English phrasal verbs, as in act on, act up, act out, etc. Before we discussed the book, which was three decades in the making, I first asked him what language Radio Prague’s erstwhile African section broadcast in. More
In the final edition of Mailbox in 2014: Random acts of kindness in the Czech Republic, listener criticism, suggestions and other feedback, answers to last month's quiz question as well as a brand new question for January 2015. Listeners/readers quoted: Drew Kerekes, Bill Reed, Subhas Chakraborty, Hans Verner Lollike, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Dipita Chakrabarty, Colin Law, Muhammad Punhal Khoso, Valery Lugovskiy. More
When Jan Palach burned himself to death in January 1969 over the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, his radical protest was echoed by a number of young men in the Eastern Bloc. Among them was Eliyahu Rips, who put a match to his petrol-doused clothing in the Latvian capital Riga on April 13, 1969. But unlike the others, Rips survived, after passers-by put out the flames. More
One on OneCzech friend’s connection to '68 pics gave me goose bumps, says Paul Goldsmith, US teen photographer who captured Soviet invasion
When I asked Paul Goldsmith by phone if he knew where Czech Radio was he said, I think so, but the last time I saw it it was on fire. At just 19 he had found himself in the middle of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia after deciding to visit Prague while travelling through Europe. A keen photographer, he captured those events in pictures that were soon picked up by the international media. Now, after being compiled for a book, his photos are on show at two concurrent exhibitions in Prague. When Goldsmith came to Czech Radio, we began by discussing his first day in the city, August 20, 1968. Did he get a sense that something dramatic might happen? More
An exhibition of photographs taken by American Paul F. Goldsmith in Prague during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia is being held in the city. Then a student, Goldsmith was touring Europe in August 1968 and found himself in Prague when the tanks rolled in; on leaving the country he gave his photographs to the AP news agency in West Germany and they were soon seen around the world. He is due to attend Tuesday evening’s opening at the café Krásný ztráty. The exhibition runs until November 9.
Prague 2 district council on Monday rejected the proposal to make 1968 invasion hero František Kriegel an honorary citizen. Kriegel was the only member of a government delegation in 1968 who refused to sign a declaration approving the Warsaw Pact invasion of former Czechoslovakia. The controversial proposal from independent councillor Michal Uhl has divided the council. Centre-right members of the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 have argued that Kriegel’s active involvement in the Communist coup brought the party to power in February 1948. Kriegel, who also participated in the Spanish civil war, died in Prague in 1979.
Current AffairsParallels exist between Soviet invasion and Russian actions today, says minister at 1968 memorial
Thursday is the 46th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement, ushering in two decades of so-called normalisation. That traumatic event was commemorated at a ceremony at Czech Radio, scene of the most brutal repression in August 1968 – and comparisons were drawn with Russia’s actions today. More