A monument has just been unveiled in Prague commemorating the support shown to Czech dissidents by the late Dutch politician Max van der Stoel. Forty years ago, on March 1, 1977, his meeting with Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patočka represented a significant breakthrough for the anti-Communist movement, then still very much in its infancy.
A series of eight programmes on public broadcaster Czech Television called Modrá Krev or Blue Blood is already around half way through. The series looks at the modern Czech aristocracy, in many cases families which have returned from exile during the Communist era, with each episode focusing on one particular noble family.
Pavel Minařík, who was a spy for communist Czechoslovakia, has been sent to prison for four months for the possession of a weapon without a license, Právo reported on Tuesday. The one-time StB agent attempted to commit suicide with an illegally held weapon in 2015 while on probation for insurance fraud, the newspaper said. The court was unable to impose a fine on him as he is living without means in a Red Cross facility for pensioners. Mr. Minařík, who is now 72, infiltrated Radio Free Europe in West Germany in the mid-1970s and planned to blow up the station. He was tried in Prague and received a four-year jail term in 1993.
A new book, Fashion Behind the Iron Curtain, released by Olympia and Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) has taken on the task of mapping fashion in Czechoslovakia from 1948 – 1989, a period that followed the Second World War, the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, a brief window of democracy and freedom and itself was marked by 40 years of totalitarian rule.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a nominee put forward by President Miloš Zeman for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman’s candidate Karel Srp had done a lot for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that Mr. Srp repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. Though a court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, former members of the pre-1989 underground say he did indeed inform on them to the secret police.
The head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, Naděžda Kavalírová, has died at the age of 93. Mrs Kavalírová was actively involved in the resistance against the Communist regime. After the Communist takeover in 1948 she was expelled from the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague because of her membership in the National Socialist Party. In 1956 she was convicted of treason, and espionage and spent three years in prison. Since 2003, Mrs. Kavlírová was the chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and between the years 2007 and 2013 she also headed the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
Czechs are marking the 48th anniversary of the self-immolation of student Jan Palach, a brave protest against the loss of freedom and gradual apathy following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. One of the most painful moments of the country’s modern history, Palach’s suicide remains a powerful memento that democracy must be nurtured and defended.
Czech historians researching the totalitarian era breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday, when the Constitutional Court ruled that the accessibility of archives from that period will remain unchanged. The ruling overturns a proposal by the Supreme Court which was against an exception giving historians easy access to documents from the Nazi and Communist regimes.
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