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:
The fall of communism turned around the lives of millions of people. In a special edition of Czechs Today we talk to a father and son of the same name about how this dramatic change affected their lives. Petr Cibulka senior was born in Opava and moved to Prague in August of 1989 –less than three months before the Velvet Revolution broke out. He now owns a hotel in Lednice, Moravia. His son Petr Cibulka junior belongs to the generation which was barely touched by the communist regime. He moved to Prague at the age of 15, later went for a study stay
President Václav Klaus is making his own contribution to the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The Czech president has penned his own assessment of how and why Communism collapsed and how the new leadership, including himself, dealt with the challenges in a book that has just been released.
November 17 is the anniversary of the start of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. But what is less well known is that six days earlier it was preceded by what has been described as the “smog revolution”, when hundreds of people – angered by the appalling state of the local environment – took to the streets in the north Bohemian city of Teplice.
World leaders past and present on Monday gathered in Berlin for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The celebrations, which are expected to culminate with the toppling of a symbolic wall of dominoes, have attracted more than 100,000 people. One of them is Štepán Benda a Czech émigré who has lived in Berlin since 1968 when he emigrated from communist Czechoslovakia. He was there when the wall came down and earlier today he shared his memories of the historic event.