In reaction to the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he believed in the strengthening of civil liberties in Cuba. He also said that Castro embodied people`s hopes as a revolutionary leader before turning in a dictator. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said could never forget that the former Cuban leader supported the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, expressed his sympathy to his family and his nation, adding that he regarded Castro as a fighter for freedom of Cuban people.
Moscow has accused the West of waging a propaganda war against Russia and is considering setting up a centre where historians who would compile a “correct” interpretation of history as seen by the Kremlin. One of the milestone events which have reportedly been “misinterpreted” is the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The sad news was announced on Wednesday that the most successful ever Czech Olympic athlete, Věra Čáslavská, died at the age of 74. She had been battling cancer of the pancreas. The gymnast will be remembered not just for her medals but for her protest against the Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
A memorial service at the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská St. on Sunday morning commemorated the 48th invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. The then Czechoslovak Radio building saw some of the bloodiest clashes after tanks rolled into the country on the night of August 20 and 21 1968 to quell the Prague Spring reform movement. Among the speakers at Sunday’s ceremony was MP Karel Schwarzenberg, who said it was not only important to honour the fallen heroes of that time – it was necessary to fight for the freedom of speech in all eras. Other participants included the ministers of human rights and culture, Jiří Dienstbier and Daniel Herman. Mr. Dienstbier said Russia today was pursuing a policy of limiting the sovereignty of other states and that the 1968 invasion showed that the best route for a country like the Czech Republic was cooperation within Europe.
Events are being held on Sunday remembering the 48th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. Over 100 people died during the invasion, which began on the night of August 20 and 21 1968 and was the start of an occupation lasting over two decades. As every year a memorial ceremony is being held at Czech Radio, the scene of some of the bloodiest clashes 48 years ago, while the names of those who died during the invasion and on its first anniversary in 1969 will be read out by the statue of St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square. The occupation came in response to the Prague Spring reform movement, which saw a degree of liberalisation and an end to censorship in Communist Czechoslovakia.
The film Code Name Holec (Krycí jméno Holec) set against the backdrop of the August 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia will be released in Czech cinemas in September, a spokesperson for the distributors said on Tuesday. The movie is based on a short story by Jan Němec and also takes place in Vienna. A number of scenes were shot around the Czech Radio building in Vinohrady, where some of the most intense fighting took place in 1968.
Gulag.online is a freshly-launched interactive virtual museum of the infamous Soviet system of labour camps. The unique project comes from the group Gulag.cz, which documented the remains of camps in remotest Siberia and converted the results into maps and a 3D camp tour that are accompanied by the testimonies of Czechoslovak survivors. Gulag.cz is headed by Štěpán Černoušek, who worked at Radio Prague’s Russian section in the early 2000s. When we met, I asked Černoušek where his interest in all things Russian had come from.
Three Communist MPs in Russia’s Duma have proposed that soldiers who served during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia should be granted war veteran status, in order to gain extra social benefits. The MPs said the aim of “Operation Danube” had been to supress a coup prepared by the Czechoslovak opposition with the support of Western states. I asked historian Jan Adamec how he interpreted the initiative of the Russian MPs:
Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said that he expects the Russian government to refuse a move by members of parliament to recognize soldiers who took part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia as war veterans. The move to give veteran status has been proposed by three Communist members of the Russian Duma. They said that the so-called operation Danube, the code name for the invasion, had been a pre-emptive move by the then Soviet Union to prevent Czechoslovakia moving into the Western camp during the Cold War. The Prague Spring reforms in Czechoslovakia had created unease in Moscow.
Three Communist MPs in Russia’s Duma have proposed that Soviet-era soldiers who served during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia be afforded war veteran status. The MPs said the aim of “Operation Danube” had been to quell a revolution that the opposition in Czechoslovakia had been preparing with the support of Western states. The USSR led a Warsaw Pact invasion of the country in August 1968 to quell the Prague Spring reform movement, starting a military occupation that was to last more than two decades.