Several months ahead of the Velvet Revolution Michal Horáček, a well-known lyricist, and rock performer Michael Kocáb founded the initiative Most (Bridge), aimed at creating a platform to allow the then-Communist regime to communicate with the dissidents it so often jailed. At first, the effort was viewed as naïve, but within several months the situation changed dramatically. After police violently cracked down on students on November 17, the initiative grew in importance, and eventually did succeed in bringing Communist leaders and dissidents to
The people of the Czech Republic have been marking the 20th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution, which led to the collapse of the country’s Communist government after over four decades of repression. The main event on Tuesday was the re-enactment in Prague of the student demonstration that sparked those changes in 1989.
Rundown buildings, empty shop-windows and ever-present grayness – that’s the focus of a new photography exhibition called ‘Tady bylo Husákovo’ – ‘This Once Was Husák’s Country’, which is now on display at Prague’s Louvre Gallery. The collection of photographs by Lubomír Kotek documents the atmosphere of Prague streets in the years preceding the Velvet Revolution.
Our special programme marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism was recorded on November 9 in front of a live audience at Prague’s celebrated film and TV academy. Radio Prague’s Jan Richter chaired a fascinating and lively discussion about the Velvet Revolution, its legacy and meaning for today. On the panel were: Jiří Stránský: a Czech writer who spent much of the 1950s in communist prisons; Václav Bartuška: a student activist at the time of the revolution and the first person to be given access to the StB (secret police) files – he
Celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution began at the weekend and, of course, they began with Václav Havel. The dissident playwright cum philosopher-president was the main figure behind the bloodless uprising that toppled 40 years of communism within just a few weeks. At the weekend, Mr Havel held a semi-private concert to commemorate the music that accompanied the overthrow of communism, inviting Joan Baez, Lou Reed, and Suzanne Vega, among others. In exclusive interviews, Radio Prague spoke to some of the guests who
Agnes of Bohemia was a princess of royal blood yet she refused a politically arranged marriage – as was the order of the day – and went into a nunnery, devoting her life to caring for the ill and needy. More than seven centuries after her death she was canonized by Pope John Paul II, just days before the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The twentieth anniversary of her canonization comes amidst speculation that restorers may have uncovered her long-lost remains.
While the split of Czechoslovakia happened quietly and almost unnoticed, the situation in Yugoslavia could hardly have been more different. There had always been close links between the two countries, and Czechs and Slovaks were deeply shocked as Yugoslavia sank into civil war. In an interview for Radio Prague in 1993, the head of the Euro-Atlantic Section of the Czech Foreign Ministry, Ivan Bušniak, pointed to some of the two countries’ historical bonds: