Thursday, August 16, 2018
AUGUST DAYS IN 1968
Tuesday 22nd August 2018 will be the 50th anniversary of the Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia, an anniversary which may largely pass unnoticed save perhaps in Prague. Now that the Soviet Union is history, even with Russia on the rise in the east, people have plenty of other things to be concerned about. It has been 50 years since Soviet troops and most but not all of their Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia on August 21st 1968.
The well-planned invasion crushed the political and economic reforms known as the Prague Spring, led by the country's then new First Secretary of the Communist party Alexander Dubcek. Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet hard-liners in Moscow, probably correctly in the light of later events between 1989 and 1991, at least from their narrow perspective, saw the reform movement as a serious threat to the Soviet Union's hold on the Socialist satellite states, they decided to act.
In the first hours on the 21st August 1968 Soviet planes began to land unexpectedly at Prague's Ruzyne airport, and shortly Soviet tanks would roll through Prague's narrow streets. The Soviet-led invasion helped establish the Brezhnev Doctrine, which Moscow said allowed the U.S.S.R. to intervene in any country where a Communist government was under threat.
The Soviet backed occupation of Czechoslovakia lasted until the velvet revolution brought an end to the Communist dictatorship in November 1991 as the Cold War ended. Even relatively recently Russia’s attitude to the invasion can still touch raw emotions, especially in the Czech and Slovak republics.