One could be forgiven for thinking that most Czechs would like to forget the "wholesome" socialist fare that their national TV station dished out during the communist era. But last year, to mark its fiftieth anniversary, Czech Television ran a marathon twenty-four hour programme, which allowed viewers to phone in and select their favourite old clips from the past. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a huge success.
It may seem hard to believe but it is fifteen years since the world witnessed the dramatic days of social upheaval and protest that eventually led to the fall of Communism in Europe. At the time reform movements in the Soviet satellites were given a new impetus by the Soviet Union's last leader Mikhail Gorbachev who announced "Life punishes those who come too late". The scenes in Berlin in November 1989 are vividly remembered, but we sometimes forget one of the last episodes just before those heady days - in the autumn of that same year thousands
A couple of years ago, during one of our Christmas specials, Peter Smith and I did a short sketch on what it's like to be a reporter for Radio Prague. In the programme, we answered made-up questions, one of which was "with so many listeners from all over the world and different kinds of interests, how do you decide what press conference is important enough to be covered in the programme?" Our answer was simple: the one that is guaranteed to have the best refreshments. We were just joking, of course, but little did we know that there actually is
About a dozen Czech rock bands took to the stage on Sunday afternoon to play a benefit concert for the "We don't talk to Communists" group, which wants to prevent politicians from working with the unreformed party. Among the bands playing are the rap-metal group Cocotte Minute, the Romani band Gluo Car and the pop-rock combo Chinaski. Several avant-garde theatre groups including Divadlo Continuo and Teatr Novogo Fronta were also staging productions at the event, which took place in an abandoned factory in Prague's Karlin district. The first "We don't talk to communists" concert was first performed last year, on November 17, the anniversary of the intervention by communist police in 1989 against a peaceful students' demonstration in Prague, which led to the so-called Velvet Revolution.
For three days, leading world politicians including former presidents and prime ministers discussed Cuba's future path to democracy at a summit of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba that came to a close in Prague on Sunday. Our colleague Dita Asiedu was there. Dita, the ICDC was formed a year ago under the initiative of Vaclav Havel with the main goal, as its name suggests, to support Cuban dissidents and help them introduce the island to democracy. But a year ago, people did not believe that the ICDC would do much to help
On August 21, 1968, Warsaw Pact tank rolled into Czechoslovakia. As Soviet troops shot at the radio building, Czechoslovak radio appealed for calm. The invasion had come on direct order from Moscow to put an end to the Prague Spring - the attempt by the Czechoslovak Communist Party, led by Alexander Dubcek, to introduce "Communism with a human face", to become more independent and loosen the tight grip of the Soviet Union. Protests in the streets of Prague and other towns and cities, left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured at the hands
Former political prisoners came together at the Svaty Hostyn, or Holy Hostyn, pilgrimage site to remember their friends who were tortured and died in prisons under the Communist regime. The Czech Confederation of Political Prisoners has organised the pilgrimage every year since 1993, laying flowers at the memorial dedicated to victims of Communism, holding the names of all those who died in Communist prisons. According to the chairman of the federation, Leo Zidek, some 240 people were killed and 200,000 arrested in the forty years of Communist rule.
Former communist functionary Karel Hoffman, who recently began serving
a four-year prison sentence for treason, has been released on the
grounds of ill health. A Prague City court ruled in favour of his
release on Friday after consulting a new medical report put forward by
prison doctors. The 80-year-old Hoffman had been found guilty of
treason and sentenced to four-years in prison for having ordered public
radio broadcasts to be halted at the time of the Russian-led invasion
of Czechoslovakia in August, 1968.
Mr Hoffman was the oldest prisoner in the Czech Republic and his health is said to have seriously worsened in recent days. In total, he spent twenty-five days behind bars.
The former communist politician Karel Hoffman may be released from prison shortly, due to his deteriorating health. The eighty year old Hoffman was recently found guilty of treason and sentenced to four years in prison for having ordered public radio broadcasts to be halted at the time of the Russian led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968. Hoffman's health is said to have seriously worsened in recent days, resulting in a proposal to the medical commission that he be released from having to serve the rest of his prison sentence.
If we were to ask you what countries around the world are still under Communist rule, the most common answers would be China and Cuba. But did you know that the small Eastern European country of Moldova has been led by a Communist president for the past three years? Depending heavily on agriculture, imported energy and with an estimated 25% of working age Moldovans employed abroad, it is the poorest nation in Europe. Former dissident and Czech Bishop Vaclav Maly, the head of the Czech branch of the human rights organisation Iustitia et Pax, recently
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