The Czech government has backed a proposal by some 90 MPs to proclaim 21
August, the date of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact
troops, a national holiday – Remembrance Day.
The amendment to the law on national holidays will be put to a vote in the lower house of Parliament in the coming days. It backed by MPs spanning all parties, except the Communists.
According to its authors, the invasion of 20 to 21 August 1968 was among the most tragic dates in contemporary Czechoslovak history, for having crushed the Prague Spring reforms.
“Love, tolerance and creative freedom aren’t just for fairytales”. That’s the central message of a new documentary called The Art of Dissent, which celebrates artistic engagement in Czechoslovakia before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Written, directed and filmed by the American intellectual historian James D Le Sueur, the film aims to debunk the myth that life behind the Churchillian ‘Iron Curtain’ was static and grey, and to inspire viewers through the messages of Václav Havel and fellow former dissidents.
The Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Alexander Zmejevskij, has
assured President Zeman that Moscow has no intention of changing its
position on the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, as reflected
in the 1993 agreement between Russia and the Czech Republic.
The ambassador was summoned to Prague Castle in order to discuss a controversial draft amendment to the Russian law on veterans, which has caused much indignation among Czech officials, including the president, who called it a gross insult to the nation.
The proposed draft claims that the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops was aimed at stabilising the political situation in the country and that soldiers who took part in it were suppressing an attempted coup.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier also assured Czech and Slovak officials that there was no change to Moscow’s official policy line. The bilateral bilateral agreement signed in 1993 clearly states that the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the deployment of Soviet troops in the country was in breach of international law.
Minister Lavrov said the draft amendment to the law on veterans presented in the Russian Duma was an isolated initiative by a single MP.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergej Lavrov, has said that the Russian
stand on the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 has not
changed and is fully in line with the 1993 bilateral treaties that Russia
concluded with the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Minister Lavrov gave these assurances to the visiting Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák on Thursday.
The 1993 agreements signed clearly state that the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the deployment of Russian troops in the country was in breach of international law.
Minister Lavrov said Moscow had no intention of changing its stand on the events and noted that the draft amendment to the law on veterans presented in the Russian Duma was an isolated initiative by a single MP.
The proposed amendment, which claims that the 1968 invasion was aimed at suppressing an attempted coup in Czechoslovakia, met with a strong negative response from Czech and Slovak leaders.
President Miloš Zeman has asked the Russian ambassador to come to Prague
Castle to explain draft legislation now in the Duma stating that Soviet
troops took part in the 1968 of Czechoslovakia to suppress “an attempted
Earlier this week, the Czech Foreign Ministry also criticized the Russian legislation for misrepresenting the Soviet-led invasion that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement.
A spokesman for President Zeman said on Twitter that the Czech head of state had invited Russian ambassador Alexandr Zmejevský to meet him on 13 June.
The Czech foreign ministry has said the draft Russian legislation "stands in stark contrast to international law” and a 1993 treaty between Prague and Moscow.
Exactly 50 years ago today, the Czechoslovak national ice hockey team beat the Soviets in the world championships for a second time, setting off a series of celebrations – which soon turned into protests, at times violent, against the ongoing Warsaw Pact occupation. Though a moral victory, in a sense it proved a Pyrrhic one.
On February 25 1969, exactly one month after Jan Palach, another man set himself alight in protest to Czechoslovak apathy following the Soviet invasion of 1968. The name of the second human torch was Jan Zajíc, a high school student from Šumperk. Fifty years on his act still brings chills of shock, but also respect among Czechs.
A travelling exhibition on the life and legacy of Jan Zajíc, who set
himself on fire to protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet
led-invasion in 1968, opened in his home town of Vítkov on Friday.
Zajíc set himself on fire in a passage off Wenceslas Square on February 25th 1969, close to the place where student Jan Palach made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to rouse the nation a month earlier.
Zajíc, who felt that further protest actions were needed, set himself on fire on the 21st anniversary of the communist putsch in 1948.
The exhibition of texts and photographs reflecting his life and legacy will travel around the country in the coming months.
Fifty years ago this January, Jan Palach doused himself in petrol and set himself alight on Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. Prague City Hall is now looking to buy the former hospital where he died – slated to become a luxury hotel – and turn it into a “museum of totalitarianism”.
When the novel The Glass Room by the British writer Simon Mawer was published in 2009 it was an instant hit, and it was no surprise when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The book was widely discussed in the Czech Republic as it revolves around the story of one this country’s most remarkable twentieth century buildings, the Villa Tugendhat in Brno. This was not Simon Mawer’s first novel set in the city. Over a decade earlier he wrote Mendel’s Dwarf, which took its inspiration from Gregor Mendel, one of the fathers of genetics and the