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Joint Issue with Czech Republic: 30th Anniversary of Velvet Revolution

In the 1980s, the Marx-Lenin project of fair future for humanity was in its last moments of existence. The economic shortfall of “camp of peace and socialism” was dramatic, and even Gorbachev's attempt to square the circle by making the totalitarian system democratic was mere utopia. Real socialism was only sustainable in the way it was created and had existed for decades - behind barbed wire with bayonets and batons. Those weapons also witnessed the beginning of the regime#39;s end in Czechoslovakia. On 17 November 1989 - the day to remember the Nazi violence of 1939 - when police brutality ended a peaceful demonstration of students on Prague's Národní třáda Street, it was finally clear that the reign of a single communist party was over. The students of Bratislava had already expressed their wishes on 16 November and over the course of several days, it became apparent that Czechoslovakia would embark on a journey like the Polish Solidarność and civil rights activists in Eastern Germany. Opposition demonstrations in Prague, Bratislava and other cities attended by hundreds of thousands of people, as well as the General Strike of 27 November which empowered the newly formed civil rights movements such as the Občanské forum, (the Civic Forum), and Verejnosť proti násiliu, (the Public Against Violence), led to the abolition of the leadership role of the communist party enshrined in the Constitution by the parliament. The dissident Václav Havel became President of the Republic and in June 1990, the first free elections were held after long decades of dictatorship. This all happened to the soundtrack of long-silenced singers Karel Kryl and Marta Kubišová and the door to the world was opened in front of our nation.

Dr. Peter Osuský