published: 21.08.2013, 14:55 | updated: 21.08.2013 14:56:23
Prague - The heroes of 1968, when then Czechoslovakia was invaded by the troops of five Warsaw Pact countries, eventually turned into cowards, and people cannot be blamed for giving in after the elites, including Alexander Dubcek, betrayed them, President Milos Zeman said today.
Zeman today visited an exhibition staged by the Jazz Section, a semi-illegal music organisation founded in the 1970s, on the 45th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion on August 21, 1968 that crushed the Communist-led reform movement also referred to as Prague Spring.
He said the lesson to be taken from the developments is that people should vote for politicians who will not betray them.
"We needed the heroes in August 1968, before as well as afterwards, we idealised them and eventually, the heroes turned into cowards, which are very hard words, I know," Zeman said.
"We do not have the right to blame citizens for having given in if long before them, those who were unfortunately incorrectly admired as national idols, gave in to the occupiers," Zeman said.
He mentioned then president Ludvik Svoboda, Communist Party first secretary Alexander Dubcek and other Prague Spring protagonists Josef Smrkovsky and Zdenek Mlynar.
The sole exception was Frantisek Kriegel [who refused to sign the agreement with the Soviets in Moscow], Zeman said adding he is bowing low to him.
Zeman said he himself was in students´ dormitories in Prague and that the students were listening to the news broadcasts by the then legal radio that the occupiers called illegal, not to their Radio Moldau.
The invasion was followed by a period of "normalisation," or the rule of Communist hardliners that continued until the fall of the Communist rule in end-1989. The last Soviet soldier left Czechoslovakia in 1991.
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