A Bipolar World
The Prague Spring
The Prague Spring is a brief period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia under Alexander Dubcek, first secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, in 1968.Dubcek granted the press greater freedom of expression; he also rehabilitated victims of political purges during the Joseph Stalin era.
In April 1968, he promulgated a sweeping reform program thatincluded autonomy for Slovakia, a revised constitution to guarantee civil rights and liberties, and plans for the democratization of the government. Dubcek claimed that he was offering “socialism with ahuman face.”
By June 1968, many Czechs were calling for more rapid progress toward real democracy. Although Dubcek insisted that he could control the country's transformation, the Soviet Union andother Warsaw Pact countries viewed the developments as a counterrevolution. On the evening of Aug. 20, Soviet armed forces invaded the country and quickly occupied it. As hard-line communists retookpositions of power, the reforms were curtailed. “Normalization” took place in Czechoslovakia.
Dubcek was deposed the following April and taken to Moscow, where the Soviets wrested major concessionsfrom him. On his return to Prague Dubcek gave an emotional address to his countrymen, requesting their cooperation in the curtailment of his reforms.
Dubcek was in a weak position. Gradually, hismore progressive aides were removed, and in April 1969, he was demoted from first secretary of the party to president of the Federal Assembly (the national parliament). In January 1970, he was appointedambassador to Turkey, but, after being expelled from the party, he was made an inspector of the forestry administration, based in Bratislava.
Dubcek returned to prominence in Czechoslovakia'snational affairs in December 1989 after the country's Communist Party had given up its monopoly on power and agreed to participate in a coalition government. On December 28 he was elected chairman of...
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