Czech Republic and Slovakia remember Prague Spring –

The Czech Republic and Slovakia commemorate the Warsaw Pact invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, when the bloody repression of the democratic “Prague Spring” movement ended hopes for socialism in human face.

The Prague Spring is the name given to the efforts of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) under Alexander Dubček in the spring of 1968 to push through a program of liberalization and democratization and, more importantly, to influence and strengthen these reform efforts by a burgeoning critical public.

On August 21, 1968, the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to suppress the reforms. Following the KPČ’s decision, Dubček called for giving up violent resistance, as it was futile from the start. Nevertheless, there were isolated clashes between the civilian population and the invaders.

Civil disobedience and various actions aimed at slowing down the occupation took place. The then Czechoslovak radio also played a major role. Thus, a mobile broadcasting station was used to inform the population. The Austrian ORF also played an important role in informing Czechoslovaks via shortwave broadcasting stations in Austria. In their own country, they were not informed at all of the events or, in some cases, were misinformed. In addition, pirate radio stations also played an important role, which the occupying Soviet forces were also unable to eliminate.

According to the ORF, the invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia left 137 people dead and around 500 injured nationwide. The last soldiers of the Soviet occupation left the CSSR only in June 1991, and today the Czech Republic and Slovakia are part of the EU and NATO.

The Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion of the Soviet Union are commemorated this year in the particular context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This week marks the seventh month since Russia invaded Ukraine, killing thousands, forcing millions to flee and causing billions of dollars in damage. In remembrance of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Czech citizens sent exactly 1,968 crowns ($80) to Ukraine to help defend against Russia, the Ukrainian Embassy said on Sunday. in Prague, according to Reuters.

Commemoration in Prague

In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the issue of freedom is more relevant today than it has been for a long time, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said at a memorial ceremony in front of the Radio building in Prague. According to Fiala, Russia still considers Central and Eastern Europe as its property and Russian tanks in Ukraine are a kind of echo of the Prague Spring.

“The reason is simple: Russian tanks are once again driving through a foreign country today, this time Ukraine, trying to crush dreams of a better future.” The liberal-conservative politician accused the Kremlin of treating Central and Eastern European states as its property to this day. The war in Ukraine, he said, meant the end of the illusion that Russian imperialism had ended with communism. We must continue to provide military, humanitarian and diplomatic support to the attacked country, he said.

Commemoration in Bratislava

Prime Minister Eduard Heger also spoke about the parallels with the situation in Ukraine during the commemoration of the anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia in front of Comenius University in Bratislava.

Heger also pointed out the fragility of peace and freedom. “Freedom is under attack today, not just in Ukraine. Freedom is under attack here too. I dare say that Moscow is fighting a hybrid war with Europe today,” he said. He evokes the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. He said the government would not leave citizens without help.

Government of the Czech Republic

Government of the Slovak Republic

Berta D. Wells