The former US president, Bill Clinton, first visited the Czech Republic in 1994, to offer the countries of the former communist block support and assistance on the road to democracy. It was a historic, trust-building visit in many ways, which saw the birth of a special friendship between the then US head of state and the Czech Republic’s first president Vaclav Havel. This week Bill Clinton gave Czech Radio’s Washington correspondent Lenka Kabrhelová an interview in which he recalled his visit to Prague, his admiration for Vaclav Havel, and how he
Producer Rick McCallum is nothing less than a legend in the film business, known for his many years with Lucasfilm and his work on enormous projects like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the Star Wars prequels. After retiring from Lucasfilm several years ago, McCallum relocated to Prague where he founded Film United. In our interview he discusses Czech talent and the benefits of shooting in the Czech Republic, and tells the story of a chance meeting he had in the 1990s with President Václav Havel.
For many years Jana Fraňková was the regular interpreter for President Václav Havel when he welcomed foreign visitors and travelled abroad. Fraňková was one of the few Czechs of her generation to graduate from Oxford University and following her return to Prague in the 1970s was harassed by the secret police for translating for Charter 77. She was also involved, she told me at Radio Prague’s studios, with the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, a group of Western academics who provided underground support to intellectuals in Czechoslovakia.
A European Parliament building in Strasbourg has been named after the late Czech president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel. A bronze bust of the first Czech president was unveiled at the entrance to the building in the presence of Havel’s wife Dagmar and the head of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani. Visitors were also able to view an exhibition of photos of Václav Havel taken by Tomki Němec. The main conference room in the building is furnished with a tapestry by Czech artist Petr Sís.
Hello and welcome to Radio Prague with me, Ruth Fraňková. July 5 is a public holiday in the Czech Republic and on the occasion we are bringing you a special programme, featuring in-depth interviews with two of the recipients of this year’s Gratias Agit awards for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad.
A new bell named after the late president Václav Havel arrived at Prague’s St Havel’s Church on Friday. The bell was cast on the occasion of what would have been Václav Havel’s 80th birthday by the renowned Austrian Bell foundry Grassmayr in Innsbruck, a city where Mr Havel underwent acute surgery in 1998. The money for the bell was raised by the Charter 77 Foundation. The bell will be displayed in the church until March 5, when it will be consecrated.
It is exactly 40 years since the launch, on 6 January 1977, of the landmark Charter 77 declaration. Calling on Czechoslovakia’s Communist rulers to honour their commitment to human rights under the 1975 Helsinki Accords, it was to become the dissident movement’s most significant protest against the regime.
A temporary memorial to mark the anniversary of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto was unveiled in Prague 6 on Thursday at a place where dissidents Václav Havel, Ludvík Vaculík and Pavel Landovský were arrested by the Communist secret police 40 years ago while trying to bring the text to the Federal Assembly. The memorial, designed by students from the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Arts in Pilsen, consists of old post boxes where people can reach for their own copy of Charter 77 manifesto. It will remain in place until the end of the month.
Part of a 100-page personal report on the Charter 77 period written by Václav Havel is set for publication on Friday as part of events marking the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Charter 77 protest document. After being lost for many decades, the valuable text was recently discovered in the papers of another leading Chartist and friend of Havel’s, the late Zdeněk Urbánek. Michael Žantovský is the director of the Václav Havel Library, which is issuing the facsimile of the major find. He told me more about it.
A text written by Václav Havel on the first days of Charter 77 that he himself believed lost is to be published in connection with Friday’s 40th anniversary of the launch of the protest document. The 100-page text was found recently in the papers of Zdeněk Urbánek, a friend who like Mr. Havel was a leading dissident in communist Czechoslovakia. The first chapter is being published by the Václav Havel Library in a run of 500 numbered copies. The publication will be launched at a gathering on Friday outside Mr. Urbánek’s former home in Prague 6, where much of Charter 77 was written. A conference and other events are also taking place in connection with the anniversary.