On August 21 1968, people woke up to discover that the dream of freedom they were living in the late 1960s had turned into a nightmare. Thirty-nine years ago, the streets of Prague and other cities and towns in Czechoslovakia were full of the tanks and soldiers of five armies led by the Soviet Union. Today, we look back at the anniversary of what for Czechs and Slovaks was one of the formative moments of the 20th century.
The second half of the 1960s in Czechoslovakia was a time of change. Things were happening that had not been seen, or even heard of, for almost two decades, since the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took over the country in February 1948. Twenty years later, people in Czechoslovakia began to wonder whether Soviet-type of 'socialism' was the only way to go. On the eve of the anniversary of the crushing of that movement, we look back at a momentous era in modern Czech history.
On Monday, the news was announced that former Russian President Boris Yeltsin had died of heart failure aged 76. Throughout the world, Boris Yeltsin will be remembered as the man who dismantled the Soviet Union and led Russia in its first chaotic years of independence. The 1990s were also the first years of renewed democratic rule in this country, which had been a Soviet satellite for many years. Radio Prague spoke to Oldrich Bures, a lecturer at Palacky University in Olomouc, about the role of Boris Yeltsin in the formation of post-Soviet Czech-Russian
This week, Hungarians are commemorating the anniversary of their dramatic anti-Soviet uprising exactly 50 years ago. On October 23, 1956 a pro-democracy rally brought 200 000 people into the streets of Budapest, singing national songs and destroying a statue of Soviet leader, Josef Stalin. Soviet tanks were forced to retreat from Budapest, but when they returned one week later the blow was devastating: reform Prime Minister Imre Nagy was arrested and executed, as were hundreds of other reformers.
Thirty-eight years ago on August 21, 1968, Czechoslovak citizens woke up to find that the country had been invaded by Warsaw Pact forces. It was the beginning of the end of the so-called Prague Spring, a period of reform communism ushered in by Alexander Dubcek, who is known for wanting to create "socialism with a human face." Yet this experiment involving freedom of the press and the opportunity to travel abroad was not looked upon kindly by the Communist Party leadership in Moscow, nor by the leadership in neighbouring socialist states. The solution
Compensation for damages suffered during the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 has been paid out to a small minority of claimants, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. A new law last year earmarked over 10 million dollars to compensate those who lost a family member or suffered serious injury or rape during the occupation. However, of almost 400 claimants, just over 50 have been granted compensation by the Interior Ministry. Many of those turned down say it was because they had received a one-off payment in 1990.
50 years ago on Saturday, the Communist Party in Moscow fell silent as Nikita Khrushchev took the podium at the 20th Party Conference to deliver his famous "Secret Speech". This monumental attack on Stalin's brutal rule had a great impact on many countries of the Soviet Bloc, and was the beginning of the end for hard-line Stalinism in many countries. Chris Jarrett takes a look at how Czechoslovak society reacted to this political shift.
November 7th had a very special place in the calendar of communist Czechoslovakia. Preparations started well in advance to mark the Soviet National Holiday, which was the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and celebrations would go on for another thirty days, known as "The Month of Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship". The young generation of Czechs are completely oblivious of the holiday but some older Czechs have fond memories of the 7th of November because unlike other communist era holidays, it was actually often fun.
Victims of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of the former Czechoslovakia may finally win compensation. The lower house of the Czech parliament has approved a bill, now awaiting Senate approval, which would provide compensation to relatives of those killed during the invasion, as well as to those killed, raped or injured by Soviet or Warsaw Pact troops who occupied the country until 1991.