Velvet Revolution

The Velvet Revolution (Czech: sametová revoluce) or Gentle Revolution (Slovak: nežná revolúcia) was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia, occurring from 17 November to 29 December 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia included students and older dissidents. The result was the end of 41 years of one-party rule in Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent dismantling of the command economy and conversion to a parliamentary republic.[1]

On 17 November 1989 (International Students' Day), riot police suppressed a student demonstration in Prague.[2] The event marked the 50th anniversary of a violently suppressed demonstration against the Nazi storming of Prague University in 1939 where 1,200 students were arrested and 9 killed. (See Origin of International Students' Day for more information.) The 1989 event sparked a series of demonstrations from 17 November to late December and turned into an anti-communist demonstration. On 20 November, the number of protesters assembled in Prague grew from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated 500,000. The entire top leadership of the Communist Party, including General Secretary Miloš Jakeš, resigned on 24 November. On 27 November, a two-hour general strike involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia was held.

In response to the collapse of other Warsaw Pact governments and the increasing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on 28 November that it would relinquish power and end the one-party state. Two days later, the federal parliament formally deleted the sections of the Constitution giving the Communist Party a monopoly of power. Barbed wire and other obstructions were removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On 10 December, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on 28 December and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on 29 December 1989.

In June 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections[3] since 1946. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries—the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Velvet Revolution
Part of the Revolutions of 1989
Praha 1989-11-25, Letná, dav (01)
Demonstration of 25 November 1989 in Prague.
Date17 November 1989 – 29 December 1989
(1 month, 1 week and 5 days)
ParticipantsCzechs and Slovaks

Prior to the revolution

The Communist Party seized power on 25 February 1948. No official opposition parties operated thereafter. Dissidents (notably Charter 77 and Civic Forum) created Music Clubs (on a limited basis as only allowed NGO's) and published home-made periodicals (samizdat). Charter 77 was quashed by the government and it's signed members were persecuted until the fall of the regime in Czechoslovakia. Later, with the advent of the Civic Forum, independence could truly be seen on the horizon. Until Independence Day on 17 November 1989, the populace faced persecution by the authorities from the secret police. Thus, the general public did not openly support the dissidents for fear of dismissal from work or school. Writers or filmmakers could have their books or films banned for a "negative attitude towards the socialist regime". This blacklisting included children of former entrepreneurs or non-Communist politicians, having family members living in the West, having supported Alexander Dubček during the Prague Spring, opposing Soviet military occupation, promoting religion, boycotting (rigged) parliamentary elections or signing Charter 77 or associating with those who did. These rules were easy to enforce, as all schools, media and businesses belonged to the state. They were under direct supervision and often were used as accusatory weapons against rivals.

The nature of blacklisting changed gradually after the introduction of Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring) in 1985. The Czechoslovak Communist leadership verbally supported Perestroika, but made few changes. Speaking about the Prague Spring of 1968 was taboo. The first anti-government demonstrations occurred in 1988 (the Candle Demonstration, for example) and 1989, but these were dispersed and participants were repressed by the police.

By the late 1980s, discontent with living standards and economic inadequacy gave way to popular support for economic reform. Citizens began to challenge the system more openly. By 1989, citizens who had been complacent were willing to openly express their discontent with the regime. Numerous important figures as well as ordinary workers signed petitions in support of Václav Havel during his imprisonment in 1989. Reform-minded attitudes were also reflected by the many individuals who signed a petition that circulated in the summer of 1989 calling for the end of censorship and the beginning of fundamental political reform.[4]

The immediate impetus for the revolution came from developments in neighbouring countries and in the Czechoslovak capital. From August, East German citizens had occupied the West German Embassy in Prague and demanded exile to West Germany. In the days following 3 November, thousands of East Germans left Prague by train to West Germany. On 9 November, the Berlin Wall fell, removing the need for the detour.

By 16 November, many of Czechoslovakia's neighbours were beginning to shed authoritarian rule. The citizens of Czechoslovakia watched these events on TV through both foreign and domestic channels. The Soviet Union also supported a change in the ruling elite of Czechoslovakia, although it did not anticipate the overthrow of the Communist regime.


16 November

On the eve of International Students Day (the 50th anniversary of Sonderaktion Prag, the 1939 storming of Prague universities by the Nazis), Slovak high school and university students organised a peaceful demonstration in the centre of Bratislava. The Communist Party of Slovakia had expected trouble, and the mere fact that the demonstration was organised was viewed as a problem by the Party. Armed forces were put on alert before the demonstration. In the end, however, the students moved through the city peacefully and sent a delegation to the Slovak Ministry of Education to discuss their demands.

17 November

17listopadu89 pomnik
Memorial of the student demonstrations of 17 November, in Prague

New movements led by Václav Havel surfaced, invoking the idea of a united society where the state would politically restructure.[5] The Socialist Union of Youth (SSM/SZM, proxy of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) organised a mass demonstration on 17 November to commemorate International Students Day and the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of student Jan Opletal[6] by the Nazi government.[5]

Most members of SSM were privately opposed to the Communist leadership, but were afraid of speaking up for fear of persecution. This demonstration gave average students an opportunity to join others and express their opinions. By 16:00, about 15,000 people joined the demonstration. They walked (per the strategy of founders of Stuha movement, Jiří Dienstbier and Šimon Pánek) to Karel Hynek Mácha's grave at Vyšehrad Cemetery and — after the official end of the march — continued into the centre of Prague,[7] carrying banners and chanting anti-Communist slogans.

At about 19:30, the demonstrators were stopped by a cordon of riot police at Národní Street. They blocked all escape routes and attacked the students. Once all the protesters dispersed, one of the participants, secret police agent Ludvík Zifčák, was lying on the street. Zifčák was not physically hurt or pretending to be dead; he was overcome by emotion. Policemen carried his motionless body to an ambulance.

The atmosphere of fear and hopelessness gave birth to a hoax about a dead student. The story was made up by Dragomíra Dražská as she awaited treatment after she was hurt during the riot. Dražská worked at the college and shared her hoax with several people the next day, including the wife of journalist Petr Uhl, a correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This incident mobilised the people and triggered the revolution. That same evening, students and theatre actors agreed to go on strike.

18 November

Two students visited Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec at his private residence and described to him what happened on Národní Street. The strike at the Realistic Theatre was declared and other theatres quickly followed. The theaters opened their stages only for public discussions.

At the initiative of students from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, the students in Prague went on strike. This strike was joined by university students throughout Czechoslovakia. Theatre employees and actors in Prague supported the strike. Instead of going on stage, actors read a proclamation by the students and artists to the audience, calling for a general strike on 27 November.

Home-made posters and proclamations were posted. As all media (radio, TV, newspapers) were strictly controlled by the Communist Party (see Mass media in Communist Czechoslovakia), this was the only way to spread the message.

In the evening, Radio Free Europe reported that a student (named as Martin Šmíd) was killed by the police during the previous day's demonstration. Although the report was false, it heightened the feeling of crisis, and persuaded some hesitant citizens to overcome their fear and join the protests.[5]

19 November

Bratislava Slovakia 213
Memorial of the Velvet revolution in Bratislava (Námestie SNP), Slovakia:
"Only those who struggle for their freedom are worthy of it."
At this place in November 1989 we deciced to take our responsibility for the future into our own hands. We decided to put an end to communism and to establish freedom and democracy.

Theatres in Bratislava, Brno, Ostrava and other towns went on strike. Members of artistic and literary associations as well as organisations and institutions joined the strike.

Members of a civic initiative met with the Prime Minister, who told them he was twice prohibited from resigning his post and that change requires mass demonstrations like those in East Germany (some 250,000 students). He asked them to keep the number of "casualties" during the expected change to a minimum.

About 500 Slovak artists, scientists and leaders met at the Art Forum (Umelecká beseda) in Bratislava at 17:00. They denounced the attack against the students in Prague on 17 November and formed Public Against Violence, which would become the leading force behind the opposition movement in Slovakia. Its founding members included Milan Kňažko, Ján Budaj and others.

Actors and members of the audience in a Prague theatre, together with Václav Havel and other prominent members of Charter 77 and other dissident organisations, established the Civic Forum (Občanské fórum, an equivalent of the Slovak Public Against Violence for the territory of the Czech Republic) as a mass popular movement for reforms. They called for the dismissal of top officials responsible for the violence, and an independent investigation of the incident and the release of all political prisoners.

College students went on strike. On television, government officials called for peace and a return to the city's normal business. An interview with Martin Šmíd was broadcast to persuade the public that nobody had been killed, but the quality of the recording was low and rumours continued. It would take several more days to confirm that nobody was killed, and by then the revolution had gained further momentum.

The leaders of the Democratic Initiative presented several demands, including the resignation of the government, effective 25 November, and the formation of a temporary government composed of non-compromised members of the current government.[8]

20 November

Prague November89 - Wenceslas Monument
St. Wenceslas Monument

Students and theatres went on "permanent" strike. Police stopped a demonstration from continuing toward Prague Castle, which would have entered the striking theatres.[5]

Civic Forum representatives negotiated unofficially with Adamec without Havel, and Adamec was sympathetic to the students' demands. However, he was outvoted in a special cabinet meeting the same day. The government, in an official statement, made no concessions.

Civic Forum added a demand: the abolition of the "ruling position" of the Communist Party from the Constitution. Non-Communist newspapers published information that contradicted the Communist interpretation. The first mass demonstration in Prague (100,000 people) and the first demonstrations in Bratislava occurred.

21 November

Praha 1989, Václavské náměstí, dav
People on the Wenceslas Square in Prague
Praha 1989, Václavské náměstí, svatý Vojtěch s transparentem
A statue of Saint Adalbert of Prague with a streamer and banners

The first official meeting of the Civic Forum with the Prime Minister took place. The Prime Minister agreed to personally guarantee that no violence would be used against the people; however he would "protect socialism, about which no discussion is possible".[5] An organised mass demonstration took place in Wenceslas Square in central Prague (demonstrations recurred there throughout the following days). Actors and students travelled to factories inside and outside Prague to gain support for their colleagues in other cities.

A mass demonstration erupted in Hviezdoslav Square in downtown Bratislava (in the following days, it moved to the Square of the Slovak National Uprising). The students presented demands and asked the people to participate in the general strike planned for Monday, 27 November. A separate demonstration demanded the release of the political prisoner Ján Čarnogurský (later Prime Minister of Slovakia) in front of the Palace of Justice. Alexander Dubček addressed this demonstration—his first appearance during the Velvet Revolution. As a result, Čarnogurský was released on 23 November. Further demonstrations followed in all major cities of Czechoslovakia.

Cardinal František Tomášek, the Roman Catholic primate of the Bohemian lands, declared his support for the students and issued a declaration criticising the current government's policies. For the first time during the Velvet Revolution, the "radical" demand to abolish the article of the Constitution establishing the "leading role" of the Communist Party was expressed by Ľubomír Feldek at a meeting of Public Against Violence.

In the evening, Miloš Jakeš, the chairman of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, gave a special address on Federal Television. He said that order must be preserved, that socialism was the only alternative for Czechoslovakia, and criticised protest groups. Government officials, especially the Head of the Communist Party Miloš Jakeš, kept their hard-line position. During the night, they had summoned 4,000 members of the "People's Militias" (Lidové milice, a paramilitary organisation subordinated directly to the Communist Party) to Prague to crush the protests, but called them off.

22 November

Civic Forum announced a two-hour general strike for Monday, 27 November. The first live reports from the demonstration in Wenceslas Square appeared on Federal Television (and were quickly cut off, after one of the participants denounced the present government in favour of Alexander Dubček).

Striking students forced the representatives of the Slovak government and of the Communist Party of Slovakia to participate in a dialogue, in which the official representatives were immediately put on the defensive. Employees of the Slovak section of the Federal Television required the leaders of the Federal Television to provide true information on the events in the country; otherwise they would initiate a strike of TV employees. Uncensored live reports from demonstrations in Bratislava began.

23 November

The evening news showed factory workers heckling Miroslav Štěpán, the Prague Communist Secretary. The military informed the Communist leadership of its readiness to act (ultimately, it was never used against demonstrators). The military and the Ministry of Defense were preparing for actions against the opposition. Immediately after the meeting, however, the Minister of Defence delivered a TV address announcing that the army would never undertake action against the people and called for an end to demonstrations.

24 November

The entire Presidium, including General Secretary Miloš Jakeš, resigned, and Karel Urbánek, a more moderate Communist, was named General Secretary. Federal Television showed pictures from 17 November for the first time and presented the first television address of Václav Havel, dealing mostly with the planned general strike.[9] Czechoslovak TV and Radio announced that they would join the general strike. A discussion with representatives of the opposition was broadcast by the Slovak section of Federal Television.[10] The opposition was represented by Ján Budaj, Fedor Gál and Vladimír Ondruš, while the Communists were represented by Štefan Chudoba (director of Bratislava automotive company), Peter Weiss (secretary of the Institute of Marx-Leninism of the Communist party of Slovakia) and the director of Steelworks Kosice. It was the first free discussion on Czechoslovak television since its inception. As a result, the editorial staff of Slovak newspapers started to join the opposition.

25 November

Praha 1989-11-25, Hradčanská, dav se valí na Letnou
25 November, people flow from the Prague cathedral (where ended a mass in honour of canonisation of Agnes of Bohemia) and from the metro station Hradčanská to Letná Plain.

The new Communist leadership held a press conference, including Miroslav Štěpán while excluding Ladislav Adamec, but did not address the demands of the demonstrators. Later that day, Štěpán resigned as Prague Secretary. The number of participants in the regular anti-government demonstration in Prague-Letná reached an estimated 800,000 people. Demonstrations in Bratislava peaked at around 100,000 participants.

26 November

Prime Minister Adamec met with Havel for the first time. The editorial staff of Slovakia's Pravda, the central newspaper of the Communist Party of Slovakia, joined the opposition.

27 November

Praha 1989, generálnímu tajemníkovi generální stávku (01)
"To the general secretary – a general strike!!!" An appeal with portrait of Miloš Jakeš, who resigned on 24 November

A successful two-hour general strike led by the civic movements strengthened what were at first a set of moderate demands into cries for a new government.[8] The strike took place throughout the country between 12:00 and 14:00, supported by a reported 75% of the population. The Ministry of Culture released anti-Communist literature for public checkouts in libraries, effectively ending decades of censorship. Civic Forum demonstrated its capacity to disrupt the political order and thereby establish itself as the legitimate voice of the nation in negotiations with the state.[5] The civic movements mobilised support for the general strike.[8]

29 November

The Federal Assembly deleted the provision in the constitution referring to the "leading role" of the Communist Party, officially ending Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

10 December

President Gustáv Husák swore in the first government in 41 years that was not dominated by the Communist Party. He resigned shortly afterward.


Národní třída (2010)
21st Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution - Fmr President Václav Havel (right, with flowers) at the Memorial at Národní Street in Prague

The victory of the revolution was topped off by the election of rebel playwright and human rights activist Václav Havel as President of Czechoslovakia on 29 December 1989. Within weeks, Havel negotiated the removal of all Soviet troops (approx. 73,500[11]) from Czechoslovakia. As per the agreement, the Soviet/Russian troops departed within months. Free elections held in June 1990 legitimised this government and set the stage for addressing the remnants of the Communist party's power and the legacy of the Communist period.

The main threat to political stability and the success of Czechoslovakia's shift to democracy appeared likely to come from ethnic conflicts between the Czechs and the Slovaks, which resurfaced in the post-Communist period.[12] However, there was a general consensus to move toward a market economy, so in early 1990, the President and his top economic advisers decided to liberalise prices, push de-monopolisation and privatise the economy. The end of Communism meant the end of life-long employment, and a subsequent increase in unemployment.[13] To combat this, the government implemented unemployment benefits and a minimum wage.[14] The outcome of the transition to democracy and a market economy would depend on the extent to which developments outside the country facilitated or hindered the process of change.[15]

Naming and Categorisation

Havla 1989
Václav Havel honouring the deaths of those who took part in the Prague protest.

The term Velvet Revolution was coined by Rita Klímová, the dissidents' English translator[16] who later became the ambassador to the United States.[17] The term was used internationally to describe the revolution, although the Czechs also used the term internally. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia used the term Gentle Revolution, the term that Slovaks used for the revolution from the beginning. The Czech Republic continues to refer to the event as the Velvet Revolution.

Theorists of revolutions, such as Jaroslav Krejčí, have argued that the "Velvet Revolution" was not, in fact, a true revolution because a revolution by definition accomplishes change by means of illegitimate violence. Contending theories of revolution argue that the Velvet Revolution is a legitimate revolution because it is a "revolutionary situation" of contested sovereignty that lead to a transfer of power ("revolutionary outcome").[18]

Ideals of the Revolution

Policemen and flowers
Non-violent protesters with flowers face armed policemen

In the months leading up to and during the revolution, citizens dispersed ideas using flyers distributed en masse. Hundreds of discrete flyers with varying messages were printed, but most shared the same ideals. In the summer of 1989, one of the most widely circulated documents was "The Eight Rules of Dialogue," which advocated for truth, understanding and empathy, informed and respectful discussion, abstaining from ad hominem attacks, and an open mind. Other documents focused less on communication techniques and more on ideals. Democracy, freedom, nonviolence, fairness, and humanness were prevalent themes, as well as self-organisation, political representation, and improved working conditions.[18]

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists tried to portray the revolution as a plot by the StB, KGB, reformists among party members or Mikhail Gorbachev. According to these theories, the Communist Party only transformed its power into other, less visible forms and still controls society. Belief in such theories has decreased.

External factors

The events of November 1989 confirmed that outside factors were significant catalysts for the downfall of Communism in Czechoslovakia. Therefore, the transformations in Poland and Hungary and the collapse of the regime in East Germany, both of which could be traced to the new attitude of the Soviets toward East Europe, encouraged Czechs and Slovaks to take to the streets to win their freedom. However, national factors, including the economic and political crisis and the actions of groups and individuals working towards a transformation, destabilised support for the system.[15]

Pace of change

The State's reaction to the strikes demonstrated that while global isolation produced pressures for political, social, and economic change, the events that followed could not be predetermined. Hardly anyone thought that the Communist State could collapse so quickly. Striking students and theatres did not seem likely to intimidate a state that was able to suppress any sort of demonstration. This "popular" phase of the revolution, was followed by victories made possible by the Civic Forum's successful mobilisation for the general strike on 27 November, which established its legitimacy to speak for the nation in negotiations with the state.[5] The mass demonstrations that followed 17 November led to the resignation of the Party leadership of Milos Jakes, the removal of the Party from its leading role and the creation of the non-Communist government. Supporters of the revolution had to take instant responsibility for running the government, in addition to establishing essential reforms in political organisation and values, economic structure and policies and foreign policy.[19]

Jingled keys

One element of the demonstrations of the Velvet Revolution was the jingling of keys to signify support. The practice had a double meaning—it symbolised the unlocking of doors[20][21] and was the demonstrators' way of telling the Communists, "Goodbye, it's time to go home."[16]

A commemorative 2 Euro coin was issued by Slovakia on 17 November 2009, to mark the twentieth anniversary. The coin depicts a bell with a key adjoining the clapper.[22] Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a short story, "Unlocking the Air", in which the jingling of keys played a central role in the liberation of a fictional country called Orsinia.

See also


  1. ^ "RP's History Online - Velvet Revolution". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  2. ^ "Velvet Revolution in Prague Czechoslovakia". Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  3. ^ Stolarik, M. Mark (2017-01-31). The Czech and Slovak Republics: Twenty Years of Independence, 1993-2013. Central European University Press. ISBN 9789633861530.
  4. ^ Wolchik, Sharon L. “Czechoslovakia's ‘Velvet Revolution.’” 1990. Current History. 89:413-416,435-437. Retrieved March 11, 2009
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Glenn, John K. “Competing Challengers and Contested Outcomes to State Breakdown: The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia”. September 1999. Social Forces. 78:187-211. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  6. ^ Kurtz, Lester. "Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution (1989)". March 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Sametová revoluce - trasa demonstrace: TOTALITA". Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  8. ^ a b c Shepherd, Robin H.E. (2000). Czechoslovakia" The Velvet Revolution and Beyond. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, Inc.
  9. ^ Prvé vysielanie záberov zo 17. novembra 1989 on YouTube Federal Television showed pictures from November 17 for the first time transmitted one week later on Nov 24.
  10. ^ Stanislav Háber: Ako vzniklo prvé Štúdio dialóg "How the first Studio Dialogue was created", Slovak v exile, 17.11.2004
  11. ^ Tomek, Prokop. "Dvacet tři podivných let pobytu sovětských vojáků v Československu" (in Czech). Military History Institute Prague. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  12. ^ Holy, Ladislav (1996). The Little Czech and The Great Czech Nation: National identity and the post-communist transformation of society. Cambridge, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ "Thematic Review of the Transition from Initial Education to Working Life, Czech Republic" (PDF). OECD. 1997. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  14. ^ "Who is Poor in the Czech Republic? The Changing Structure and Faces of Poverty after 1989" (PDF). 2004. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  15. ^ a b Wolchik, Sharon L. “Czechoslovakia's ‘Velvet Revolution.’” 1990. Current History. 89:413-416,435-437. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42532-2.
  17. ^ Nelson, Lars-Erik. New Czechoslovakian Leaders Are As Stunned As Their People. New York Daily News, 1990-02-21.
  18. ^ a b Krapfl, Jame (2013). Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture, and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989–1992. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801469428.
  19. ^ Wolchik, Sharon L. "Czechoslovakia's 'Velvet Revolution.'" 1990. Current History. 89:413-416,435-437. Retrieved March 11, 2009 (h)
  20. ^ "Havel at Columbia: The Velvet Revolution". Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  21. ^ "Today, at exactly noon in Prague, people flooded into the streets around Wenceslas Square, the central shopping thoroughfare, rattling key chains and tinkling tiny bells. The jingling of keys, acts symbolizing the opening of hitherto locked doors, has become a common gesture in the wave of demonstrations.... On Jungmanova Square, Mr. Havel himself stood beaming broadly on the balcony of a building.... He lustily jingled a bunch of keys." John Tagliabue, "Upheaval in the East; From All Czechoslovakia, a Joyful Noise," The New York Times, Dec. 12, 1989.
  22. ^ "Slovakia 2009 2 Euro Comm.- New image". Retrieved 2013-01-19.

Further reading

  • Kukral, Michael Andrew. Prague 1989: Theater of Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press. 1997. ISBN 0-88033-369-3.
  • Timothy Garton Ash, We the People: The Revolution of '89, Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague (Cambridge, 1990).
  • Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klíma, Pavel Dobrovský, Monika Pajerová, and Šimon Pánek, Studenti psali revoluci (Students wrote the revolution -in Czech). Prague: Univerzum, 1990. ISBN 80-85207-02-8.
  • Tauchen, Jaromír - Schelle, Karel etc.: The Process of Democratization of Law in the Czech Republic (1989–2009). Rincon (USA), The American Institute for Central European Legal Studies 2009. 204 pp. ISBN 978-0-615-31580-5.
  • Williams, Kieran, 'Civil Resistance in Czechoslovakia: From Soviet Invasion to "Velvet Revolution", 1968–89,' in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-955201-6.

External links

2018 Armenian revolution

The 2018 Armenian revolution (most commonly known in Armenia as #MerzhirSerzhin (Armenian: ՄերժիրՍերժին), meaning "#RejectSerzh") was a series of anti-government protests in Armenia from April to May 2018 staged by various political and civil groups led by member of parliament Nikol Pashinyan (head of the Civil Contract party). Protests and marches took place initially in response to Serzh Sargsyan's third consecutive term as the most powerful figure in the government of the Armenia and later against the Republican Party-controlled government in general. Pashinyan declared it a Velvet Revolution (Թավշյա հեղափոխություն).On 23 April, Sargsyan conceded, saying "I was wrong, while Nikol Pashinyan was right" and resigned. The event is referred to by some as a peaceful revolution akin to revolutions in other post-Soviet states. By the evening of 25 April, the Republican Party’s coalition partner ARF-Dashnaktsutyun had withdrawn from the coalition.By 28 April, all of the opposition parties in Armenia's parliament had announced they would support Pashiniyan's candidacy. A vote was scheduled in the National Assembly for 1 May; for Pashiniyan to be elected Prime Minister, which required 53 votes, he would have had to win the votes of at least six members of the Republican Party. Pashinyan was the only candidate who was put forward for the vote. However, the Republican Party unanimously voted against Pashinyan – 102 MPs were present, out of which 56 voted against his candidacy and 45 voted for it. One week later, on 8 May, the second vote took place. Pashinyan was elected Prime Minister with 59 votes.

Alexander Dubček

Alexander Dubček (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈalɛksandɛr ˈduptʃɛk]; 27 November 1921 – 7 November 1992) was a Czechoslovak and Slovak politician who served as the First secretary of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) (de facto leader of Czechoslovakia) from January 1968 to April 1969. He attempted to reform the communist government during the Prague Spring but was forced to resign following the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968.

During his leadership, under the slogan of "Socialism with a human face", Czechoslovakia lifted censorship on the media and liberalized Czechoslovak society, fuelling the so-called New Wave in Czechoslovak filmography. However, he was put under pressure by Stalinist voices inside the party as well as the Soviet leadership, who disliked the direction the country was taking and feared that Czechoslovakia could loosen ties with the Soviet Union and become more westernized. As a result, the country was invaded by the other Warsaw Pact countries on 20–21 August 1968, effectively ending the process known as the Prague Spring. Dubček resigned in April 1969 and was succeeded by Gustav Husák, who initiated normalization. Dubček was then expelled from the Communist Party in 1970.

Later, after the overthrow of the communist regime in 1989, he was Chairman of the federal Czechoslovak parliament. Also in 1989, the European Parliament awarded Dubček the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

American Doll Posse

American Doll Posse is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos, released in 2007 by Epic records. A concept album, American Doll Posse sees Amos assuming the identity of five different female personalities inspired by Greek mythology in order to narrate stories of life in modern America. Themes include opposition to the Iraq War, recording industry misogyny, disillusion, sexuality, personal loss and female empowerment in general. Musically, the album is more rock-oriented than other studio albums by Amos, notably featuring more guitar and drums than previous albums The Beekeeper (2005) and Scarlet's Walk (2002).

The album peaked at no. 5 on the Billboard 200, marking Amos's sixth Top 10 album. The album's lead single in the US, "Big Wheel", was a hit on Triple-A radio. In Europe, "Bouncing Off Clouds" was released as the lead single.

Brett Kimberlin

Brett Kimberlin (born 1954) is an activist who was convicted in 1980 on drug charges and of perpetrating the 1978 Speedway bombings. Since his release from prison, Kimberlin has co-founded the non-profit Justice Through Music Project and the activist organization Velvet Revolution. He has also been involved in various legal disputes, including those associated with a claim that he supplied marijuana to Dan Quayle.

Charter 77

Charter 77 (Charta 77 in Czech and in Slovak) was an informal civic initiative in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic from 1976 to 1992, named after the document Charter 77 from January 1977. Founding members and architects were Jiří Němec, Václav Benda, Ladislav Hejdánek, Václav Havel, Jan Patočka, Zdeněk Mlynář, Jiří Hájek, Martin Palouš, Pavel Kohout and Ladislav Lis. Spreading the text of the document was considered a political crime by the communist regime. After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, many of its members played important roles in Czech and Slovak politics.

Civic Forum

The Civic Forum (Czech: Občanské fórum, OF) was a political movement in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, established during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The corresponding movement in Slovakia was called Public Against Violence (Slovak: Verejnosť proti násiliu - VPN).

The Civic Forum's purpose was to unify the dissident forces in Czechoslovakia and to overthrow the Communist regime. In this, they succeeded when the Communists gave up power in November 1989 after only 10 days of protests. Playwright Václav Havel, its leader and founder, was elected president on December 29, 1989. Although the Forum did not have a clear political strategy beyond the June 1990 elections, it campaigned successfully in March and April 1990 during the first free elections in Czechoslovakia since 1946. Those elections garnered Civic Forum 36 percent of the vote, the highest that a Czechoslovakian party ever obtained in a free election. This netted it 68 seats in the Chamber of Deputies; combined with Public Against Violence's 19 seats, it commanded a strong majority.

The Civic Forum had a very loose structure, and most of its (self-appointed) leaders came from Prague-based members of the Charter 77 dissident movement. In December 1989, Jan Urban became the Forum's chairman after Havel's election as president. Urban served until June 1990, when he resigned, stating he did not want a rift between the organization and the president. On October 16, 1990, Václav Klaus was elected its new chairman. Klaus's policies were opposed by other leading figures within the Forum and party unity soon vanished.

At the Civic Forum congress in January 1991, the movement divided. The more right wing members, led by Klaus, declared that they would form an independent party, the Civic Democratic Party (Občanská demokratická strana), with a clearer program advocating a free market. The party elected Klaus as its chairman in February 1991. The more centrist members of Civic Forum, led by federal minister of foreign affairs Jiří Dienstbier, formed the Civic Movement (Občanské hnutí). Klaus stated that the two parties would rule as a coalition until the 1992 elections. However, by July 1991 Klaus declared the inter-party cooperation over. The Civic Democratic Party was victorious in the elections of 1992 while the Civic Movement failed to reach the 5% threshold to enter parliament and eventually disappeared.

Civil Contract (Armenia)

Civil Contract (Armenian: Քաղաքացիական պայմանագիր, K'aghak'atsiakan paymanagir, ՔՊ, often shortened to Քաղպայմանագիր, K'aghpaymanagir) is a political party in Armenia which was established on July 24, 2013 as an NGO. Its governing board was formed on December 9, 2013. On May 30, 2015, it became a political party. Civil Contract participated in the 2017 Armenian parliamentary election and the 2017 Yerevan City Council election as part of the Way Out Alliance (Yelk). After the 2018 Armenian Velvet Revolution led by Nikol Pashinyan, the Yelk political alliance rose to power and Civil Contract became part of the ruling coalition in the Armenian National Assembly.

Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Czech and Slovak: Komunistická strana Československa, KSČ) was a Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992. It was a member of the Comintern. Between 1929 and 1953 it was led by Klement Gottwald. After its election victory in 1946 it seized power in the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état and established a one-party state allied with the Soviet Union. Nationalization of virtually all private enterprises followed.

In 1968, party leader Alexander Dubček proposed reforms that included a democratic process and this led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Under pressure from the Kremlin, all reforms were repealed, party leadership became taken over by its more authoritarian wing and a massive non-bloody purge of party members was conducted.

In 1989 the party leadership bowed to popular pressure during the Velvet revolution and agreed to call the first contested election since 1946. In 1990, the centre-based Civic Forum won the election and the Communist Party stood down.

In November 1990, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Communist Party of Slovakia.

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was declared to be a criminal organisation in the Czech Republic by the 1993 Act on Illegality of the Communist Regime and on Resistance Against It.

Czech hip hop

The hip hop subculture in the Czech Republic emerged after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Since then the subculture has become an influential urban phenomenon, with hip hop groups, clubs and festivals appearing across the country. Notable hip hop artists from the Czech Republic include Chaozz,, Naše Věc and Prago Union.

Czechoslovak Television

Czechoslovak Television (ČST) was founded on 1 May 1953 in Czechoslovakia. It was known by three names over its lifetime: Czech: Československá televize, Slovak: Československá televízia (until 1990), Česko-slovenská televízia (from 1990 until 1992).

Dissolution of Czechoslovakia

The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia (Czech: Rozdělení Československa, Slovak: Rozdelenie Česko-Slovenska), which took effect on 1 January 1993, was an event that saw the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the independent countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. These entities had arisen before as the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic in 1969 within the framework of a federal republic.

It is sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce, a reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the end of the rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the restoration of a capitalist state in the country.

Karel Urbánek

Karel Urbánek (born 22 March 1941 in Bojkovice, Moravia) is a retired Czech politician. He was the last leader of Communist Czechoslovakia during the Velvet Revolution.

A former Bojkovice railway station manager, he replaced Miloš Jakeš as Secretary General of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia after a swift election on 24 November 1989. The only important decision he made during his very short term was to cancel the clause of the Constitution which gave the Communist Party a monopoly of power, though Communist rule had effectively ended with Jakeš' resignation. He remained as party leader until 20 December, when he was succeeded by Ladislav Adamec.

Ladislav Adamec

Ladislav Adamec (10 September 1926, in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm – 14 April 2007, in Prague) was a Czechoslovak communist politician.

Lubomír Štrougal

Dr. Lubomír Štrougal (born October 19, 1924 in Veselí nad Lužnicí) is a former Czech politician and communist Czechoslovakia prime minister.

After a compulsory service in Germany’s industry during the World War II (the total appointment order for Czech people – German: Totaleinsatz) he finished the law studies at the Charles University in Prague. He entered the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and since the late 1950s was a member of its leadership (member of its Central Committee).

Between 1959 and 1961 Štrougal was agriculture minister, then till 1965 he was interior minister.

In 1968 he became deputy prime minister to Oldřich Černík. At first he refused the 1968 Occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces, but later became one of the prominent representatives of Gustáv Husák‘s regime. Štrougal was Czechoslovakia’s prime minister from January 28, 1970 to October 12, 1988.

Because of the conflicts with the communist party chairman Miloš Jakeš, he resigned as the prime minister. He criticized the state of the party, the executive and the society. During the 1989 Velvet Revolution Štrougal was one of the candidates for the communist party chairmanship, but later left political stage and in February 1990 he was expelled from the party.

The Office for the Documentation and the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism Police of the Czech Republic (Czech: ÚDV) accused Štrougal, that in his function in 1965, he prevented investigation of crimes conducted by the communist State Security in 1948 and 1949. However, the Prague city court discharged him in 2002 due to lack of evidence.

Marián Čalfa

Marián Čalfa (born 7 May 1946, in Trebišov) is the former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia during and after the Velvet Revolution, as well as de facto acting President for 19 days, and was a key facilitator of the smooth transfer of power from Communist rule to a new democratic representation.

A Slovak, from 1985 he worked as the head of a legislative department of the Czechoslovak federal government. In April 1988, he became a minister - the chairman of the legislative committee. During the Velvet Revolution, on 10 December 1989, he was appointed Prime Minister in place of discredited Ladislav Adamec. Although he himself was a member of the KSČ, this government had a non-Communist majority. He thus headed the first cabinet in 41 years that was not dominated by the KSČ. When President Gustáv Husák resigned from his office shortly after swearing in the government, Čalfa also took on most presidential duties until the election of Václav Havel on 29 December.

On 18 January 1990, he left the KSČ to join the Public Against Violence (VPN) party, the Slovak counterpart of Havel's Civic Forum. He thus became the first prime minister since before World War II who was not a Communist or a fellow traveler. The only non-Communist to hold the premiership before the start of Communist rule, Social Democrat Zdeněk Fierlinger, was openly pro-Communist (and later led his party into a merger with the Communists). He helped lead the Havel movement to a sweeping victory in the 1990 elections--the first free elections held in the country in 44 years. When VPN dissolved in April 1991, Čalfa followed most of the party into the Civic Democratic Union (ODU-VPN), of which he became a leading member.

Both cabinets headed by Čalfa succeeded in introducing significant political and economic reforms, facilitating the transition from Communism Party rule to a multi-party system and a market-oriented economy. Čalfa enjoyed strong support from all relevant political powers, including both President Václav Havel and an increasingly confident Finance Minister Václav Klaus.

Čalfa resigned from the Federal Government after the defeat of the Public Against Violence in the elections of 1992. He was succeeded by caretaker Jan Stráský, whose major task was the execution of Dissolution of Czechoslovakia. In that year, Čalfa took up Czech citizenship and started working as a lawyer in Prague, heading law firm Čalfa, Bartošík a Partneři.During his tenure as Prime Minister, Čalfa was occasionally a target of criticism for his Communist past. Some considered this as a proof that the Velvet Revolution was unfinished or even "stolen" by people belonging to the past nomenklatura. Presently, historians consider him as a "power behind the throne," who greatly contributed to the smoothness and speed of Velvet Revolution and the election of Václav Havel as President. He used his negotiation skills in critical moments against his fellow Communist Party members and talked them into compromises that were sometimes more radical the representatives of the Civic Forum had expected.

Many politicians of the subsequent democratic era, including Václav Klaus, said that they learned many things about real politics from Čalfa.

Miloš Jakeš

Miloš Jakeš (born 12 August 1922) is a retired Czech communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from 1987 until 1989. He resigned from his position in late November 1989, amid the Velvet Revolution.

Public Against Violence

Public Against Violence (Slovak: Verejnosť proti násiliu, VPN) was a political movement established in Bratislava, Slovakia in November 1989. It was the Slovak counterpart of the Czech Civic Forum.

Socialist Alternative Future (Czech Republic)

Socialist Alternative Future (Czech: Socialistická alternativa Budoucnost, SAB) is a Trotskyist political party in the Czech Republic, founded in 1990 by students active in the events of the Velvet Revolution. It affiliated to the Committee for a Workers' International in 1994.The party is an activist organisation involved in initiatives such as fare boycott rides on public transport in protest at prices and the No Bases (Ne základnám) campaign against the establishment of a US military base in the Czech Republic, centred on a radar installation.SAB has worked to combat racism against Romani people and directed efforts at winning support for socialist ideas amongst Romanis. The party holds the position that capitalism must be removed in order to overcome the social and economic factors underpinning racism and the problematic coexistence of Romanis and the majority.

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