The Forum 2000 conference held under the theme “Democracy: In need of a
critical update?” got underway in Prague on Sunday. The annual three-day
conference, now in its 22nd year, is hosting a wide range of politicians,
philosophers, authors, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and thinkers.
Among other topics, discussions will examine current social and economic challenges to democracy, growing populism and nationalism. Forum 2000 is looking to engage the younger generation to share their views on these issues and discuss ways to renew trust in democratic governance.
This Sunday will mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement - the deal between Hitler, Mussolini and the two western European powers, which cut off the German speaking borderlands from Czechoslovakia, including a significant part of its industry and protective ring of forts, thus rendering the young republic defenceless to any future German invasion. Munich is often seen as a betrayal of the Czechoslovak state by western powers and the French were famously ashamed for breaking their alliance. But why did the Great powers act as they
Rehearsal for Truth is a weeklong theatre festival dedicated to Václav Havel that gets underway in New York on Tuesday. Alongside plays and stage readings, it will also see the presentation of a human rights award and the unveiling of a new bust of the dissident turned president at Columbia University. I discussed the festival, which is focused on Central European theatre, with organiser Pavla Niklová of the Václav Havel Library Foundation.
One of the most important Czechoslovak Cold War defectors, Ladislav Bittman, died in his atelier in Rackport, Massechustes, on Tuesday night. The foreign intelligence officer turned disinformation professor crippled Czechoslovak disinformation and even wider foreign intelligence operations for many years after his defection. Tom McEnchroe tells the story of his extraordinary life.
Whether it was in the show trials of the 1950s or reporting from the Middle East, an undercurrent of anti-Semitism was present in the communist propaganda apparatus in Czechoslovakia. At least that is what a new website aimed at teachers in secondary schools and just released by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes reveals.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Russian embassy in Prague on Tuesday to demand the release of jailed Ukrainian film maker Oleg Sentsov and other prisoners of conscience. The gathering lasted exactly 107 minutes, symbolizing the 107 days that Sentsov has been on a hunger strike in a Siberian prison.
The Czech town of Malá Úpa is opening a new tourist trail, called Freedom
at the Border, to remind people of a landmark undercover meeting of Czech
and Polish dissidents forty years ago at the summit of mount Sněžka.
The first meeting in 1978 was attended by Václav Havel, Marta Kubišová and Tomáš Petřivý, who initiated the meeting. From the Polish side, there was Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuroń, Jan Majewski, Jan Lityński and Antoni Macierewicz.
To mark the opening of the educational trail, a concert, theatre performance and debates will be held on Saturday near the Czech-Polish border. The meeting aims to serve as a reminder that freedom is not to be taken for granted.
On August 25, 1968 eight brave souls held a public protest on Moscow’s Red Square against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. They all paid dearly for that act of fearlessness and defiance, receiving punishments including jail terms, internal exile and forced psychiatric treatment. The organiser of the demonstration was Pavel Litvinov, whose grandfather Maxim Litvinov had been Stalin’s foreign minister in the 1930s. This week Mr. Litvinov, now resident in the US, was in Prague for events marking the 50th anniversary of the invasion. When
Soviet-led forces invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968 in response to the Prague Spring, a reform movement launched earlier that year by then freshly installed Communist Party chief Alexander Dubček. But how soon into Dubček’s rule did Moscow become concerned about developments in Prague? And what, if any, steps did the Slovak-born leader take to appease the Russians? Those are just a couple of the questions I discussed with Kieran Williams, who is the author of The Prague Spring and its Aftermath and teaches at Drake University in Des Moines,
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