Today is the day when 20 years ago crowds of people, students mainly, marched to Wenceslas Square in Prague to express their discontent with ruling then Communist regime. Many of those rebels who took part in that demonstration were severely bitten by state militia. Those memorable events started the Velvet Revolution and triggered collapse of the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
Among the main leaders of the Velvet Revolution was Vaclav Havel, a famous playwright and dissident who even served several years in jail for his opinions and beliefs. On December 29, 1989 Mr. Havel became the first democratically elected president of the country. As a result of the Velvet Revolution Czechoslovakia was peacefully divided into the Czech Republik and the Slovak Republic.
Today the situation in the Czech Republik is not brilliant, but according to a survey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project the Czech Republic and Poland are the only two countries of nine post-communist states where the majority of people think that their lives now are better than back then in Communist years.
And despite unstable economic conditions and long playing political crisis in the country the Czechs now live in a democratic state characterized by free market, civil society, respect for the law and human rights.
In his recent speech on the occasion of the Velvet Revolution's 20th anniversary Vaclav Havel warned his fellow citizens that they must appreciate democracy and freedom and be cautious because “the era of dictatorships and totalitarian systems has not come to en end" and nowadays "new, much more sophisticated ways of controlling the society" exist.
Photo: Velvet Revolution in Prague, by Piercetp (wikimedia.org)
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