Forty years ago this week the army of the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia, bringing to an end the ‘Prague Spring.’ For a few months the Czech and Slovak people had enjoyed increased freedom of speech, and greater press freedom. I recall watching pictures of passive resistance by the people, slowing down tanks, daubing them with paint and chanting slogans. The invaders got the message that they were not welcome! I also remember hearing broadcasts in English from Radio Prague just before the invasion, and how the tone changed after it happened..
The tanks may have imposed Soviet rule, but they never broke the spirit of the people. Protest movements grew up in the years after the invasion, and laid the foundation for the ‘velvet revolution’ of the late 1980s.
The recent pictures from Georgia were depressingly familiar to those of us who remember August 1968.