1968 documentary on Russian TV angers Czech and Slovaks

The Czech Republic and Slovakia criticise Moscow over Prague Spring documentary

Photo by: Public Domain
Photo by: Public Domain

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Russian state-run broadcast station Rossiya 1 TV aired a documentary on the Soviet invasion of former Czechoslovakia in 1968 last week, claiming Russia tried to prevent a NATO-backed “armed coup” which used the "legend of peaceful civilian uprising with the romantic name of the Prague Spring."

In Prague Spring of 1968, Russia together with other then communist Warsaw Pact countries invaded Prague with 2,000 tanks and 500,000 soldiers.

Foreign Minister of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak criticised the documentary by saying it is an attempt to “rewriting history,” through “manipulation of historical facts.”

Stating that Russia has officially apologised for the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the ministry called the documentary a “false and truth-distorting work full of misrepresentations and old ideological cliches.”

The Slovak foreign ministry raised its concerns about the documentary and said that the documentary could harm Slovak and Russian relations just before Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek also summoned Russia's ambassador to Prague Sergei Kiselyev to raise his concerns regarding the documentary.

Czech President Milos Zeman’s spokesman said that the documentary is just a “typical Russian propaganda lie.”

The documentary “Warsaw Pact-Pages Declassified” claimed that Warsaw Pact countries like Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria sent military forces to then-Czechoslovakia to prevent a NATO coup in the country.

According to the documentary, most of the Czechoslovakian population welcomed the troops and only a small group protested them in Prague.

Putin sends Cossack Horsemen to Berlin

A group of Cossack horsemen started their travel to Berlin on Sunday, using the same route that was used by the Soviet cavalry during World War II.

Planning to enter Germany on July 22, the leader of the group, Pavel Moshtshalkov, said that “the trip has nothing to do with politics.”

“It is a trip of friendship. The Germans have responded positively to the news,” Moshtshalkov added.

Cossacks are an East Slavic population in Ukraine and Russia who have a long  martial history and egalitarian culture. During WWII, some Cossack horseman fought together with the Nazis which led the Soviet government to persecute the group as traitors following the war.

In April, the Russian biker gang Night Wolves arrived in Germany, making their way to Berlin to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Union’s Red Army over the Nazis during World War II.

The biker gang departed from Moscow on April 25 to travel on the Red Army route through Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria to reach Berlin on May 9 and attended the memorial services.

However, some members of the group were denied access at the Polish border due to not having a visa to enter the country.

The Night Wolves biker group was established in 1989 and has around 5,000 members. The group is well known for its close ties with the Russian President Vladimir Putin who has appeared at a number of the group's rallies and has been Russia’s number one vocal supporter of its policies in Ukraine.

Putin to visit Milan

On Monday, the Kremlin announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to go to Milan to meet Italian political leaders and to visit the Russian stand in the Milan Expo.

The announcement immediately followed the release of 89 European names banned from entering Russia in response to EU sanctions on the country.

The European Union has criticised Russia over its travel blacklist that includes 89 EU politicians, officials and military leaders calling it “arbitrary and unjustified.”

The list that was prepared by the Russian foreign ministry and handed to the EU delegation in Moscow.

The travel blacklist includes nationals from countries such as the US, UK, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.

After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014, the EU and US issued several sanctions which came into force on September 14, 2014 aimed at restricting Russia’s banking, energy and arms industries.

Russia is currently being boycotted by many Western leaders ever since Moscow annexed Crimea and gave its alleged military and political support to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Ukraine.

TRTWorld and agencies