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:
Olga Hrubá is today a feisty woman of 85. Way back at the turn of the 1950s she campaigned, from exile in the US, to save the life of her friend Miladá Horáková, a Czechoslovak politician executed by the Communists after a show trial. For the following four decades Olga Hrubá, along with her pastor husband, worked – with some success – to protect the rights of religious believers in Communist states.
At the turn of the 20th century, Lázně Kyselka, just outside Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia, was a fashionable spa resort. Today, it is a ruin on the verge of total collapse. Kyselka suffered decades of neglect followed by a chaotic privatisation of the 1990s that only brought more disregard for its historic value. But recently, at long last, new hope appeared for the derelict 19th century spa complex, after a deal was reached between the various owners of the premises to try and save it.
I had never really been inside or had a proper look around, but I was sure the small church of St Martin in the Wall would have an interesting story, if for no other reason than its ancient appearance and peculiar name. Just off the central Národní třída is a classic Prague alleyway that’s tucked away from the shopping boulevard, neatly dividing the centuries from one another, and there you’ll find it. One of the oldest churches in the city, St Martin in the Wall is one of those relatively few landmarks whose story can transport you all the way
After the split of Czechoslovakia at the beginning of 1993, Radio Prague devoted several programmes to the impact of the new border on ordinary people’s lives. For most, life stayed much the same, but the split did have a very real impact on people living close to the border, and on Czechs living in Slovakia or vice versa. Here is one Slovak student, settled in the Czech Republic, talking to Radio Prague a few months after the split:
Late last month the Czech literary world finally paid its due to Natalia Gorbanevskaya a Russian poet, translator and civil rights activist who in 1968 risked her life to voice her opposition to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. More than 40 years after her brave deed her book Red Square at Noon reflecting the events was finally published in Czech.
One of the more curious aspects of Radio Prague in the early 1990s was that the station’s name kept changing. In 1991, for no particular reason, we stopped calling ourselves Radio Prague and became Radio Prague International. Then, at the beginning of 1992, in order to seem less Prague and Czech centred, we became Radio Czechoslovakia. The change was largely cosmetic, because the great majority of programmes, with the exception of a daily commentary sent from Bratislava, continued to come from the Czech part of the federation.
A painting depicting the most famous fratricide in Czech history – the murder of prince Vaclav by his own brother Boleslav in 935 has emerged to see the light of day after gathering dust in an attic for close to 170 years. In this edition of Panorama we look at why the monumental work spent so many decades hidden from the eyes of the world.
A memorial plaque to Zdeněk Urbánek, a writer, translator and a close friend of the late Václav Havel, was unveiled at the weekend at his Prague home. Zdeněk Urbánek, who died in 2008, was a significant figure of Czechoslovakia’s the anti-communist opposition, and it was at his house in the Prague district of Střešovice where the human rights manifesto Charter 77 began its journey.
One of the most passionate debates in Czechoslovakia in the first years after the fall of communism was over what to do with people who had collaborated with the secret police – the StB – or had held prominent functions in the Communist Party. In 1991 the so-called “screening law” was passed, under which former StB collaborators were prevented from holding certain senior posts – for example in academia or in the civil service. At the time Radio Prague invited two Czech politicians into the studio: the left-of-centre member of the Federal Parliament,