25 years ago today, the dissident playwright Václav Havel became the first non-communist president of Czechoslovakia since 1948. Back then, Edvard Beneš had resigned from office in the midst of a communist putsch led by Klement Gottwald. 41 years later, the communists would vote to destroy their own monopoly on power.
Newly released documents from Australia's top spy agency have revealed details of Czechoslovakian espionage down under, during the early years of the Cold War. The previously top-secret records outline how Czechoslovakians spied on behalf of the Soviets, and how they managed to recruit an Australian diplomat who eventually fled to Prague. Andrew Greene reports from Australia's capital, Canberra.
The name Jolyon Naegele is familiar to many who lived through the final years of communism in Czechoslovakia and other countries in the then Soviet Bloc. At that time Naegele was a roving Eastern European correspondent for the U.S. radio station Voice of America. In a special interview, he discusses his first impressions of Czechoslovakia in 1978, his experiences with the StB, meeting Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution, and developments since then.
One of the staples of the Czech Christmas’, along with fried carp, Christmas cookies and fairy tales, is Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass. The mass composed by a small-town teacher in 1796 has become the most popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written. It is performed in churches, concert halls and resounds in millions of Czech homes at this time of year. So on Christmas Eve, we would like to share this musical experience with you and have selected a 1998 recording that has been hailed as the best recording of the Czech Xmas mass ever made.
On Thursday, December 18th, Czechs are marking the third anniversary of the death of Vaclav Havel, the legend of the Velvet Revolution and the country’s first post-communist president. Commemorative events are taking place in different parts of the country, but some critics point out that three years after his departure, the Czech Republic has strayed far from Vaclav Havel’s philosophy and ideals.
The late Czech president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel was honoured by members of the US Congress on Wednesday. A bust of Mr Havel was unveiled at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol in the presence of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Havel’s widow, Dagmar. The ceremony concluded a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which toppled the Communist regime.
The Czech Republic is marking 25 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution which toppled the communist regime. The country has since undergone a dramatic transformation from totalitarianism to a free-market democracy, affecting virtually all areas of life. The changes have been especially marked in Prague and other big cities but in the regions, the transformation has been less smooth and often more painful. In our special programme today, we look at how two historic Czech towns, Mikulov and Stříbro, have changed over the last 25 years.