Czech politicians have slammed an article published on the website of Russian state-wide television channel Zvezda, run by the Russian Defense Ministry, on Tuesday, maintaining that Czechs should be grateful that Soviet-led forces invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The article in question claimed that the forces had prevented the West from orchestrating a coup in the then-communist country by means, it claimed, which were delayed until 1989.
On the contrary, the Soviet-led invasion in 1968 crushed the period of democratic reforms in Czechoslovakia known as the Prague Spring. The events of 1968 ushered in the so-called Normalisation period during the 1970s and Soviet troops would remain on Czechoslovak soil for more than 20 years.
The article, written by Leonid Maslovskij, caught many off guard as it was published the same day Czech President Miloš Zeman met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Sochi and later travelled to Moscow. According to iDnes, Mr Zeman, widely seen as a pro-Russia politician, was angered by the report; Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek slammed the article as twisting and misinterpreting historical facts and made clear such articles were no way forward to good relations.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnický went further by calling the article “outright lies” and expressed regret the article had come during an official state visit by the Czech head of state. President Miloš Zeman will reportedly address the matter while in Russia.
Zvezda responded that the opinions expressed in the article were the author’s own.