Prague in 1968 and Ukraine today

On 21 August, the Czechs and Slovaks commemorate the suppression of the Prague Spring mass protests by troops from the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria in 1968. The tanks crushed the hope for a reformable "socialism with a human face". Commentators note that the war in Ukraine is proof that the Kremlin leadership has not changed over the decades.

Český rozhlas (CZ) /

Only the tanks are different

Český rozhlas points out:

“No matter who sits in the Kremlin, whether he’s called a tsar, secretary-general or president, this is still the same aggressive power that wants to move its borders southwards and in particular westwards. The Russian tanks of August 1968 in Prague differ from those of 2008 in Georgia or this year’s tanks in Ukraine only as regards the model. They are still driven by the same mentality that pulls the trigger on weapons that killed dozens of civilians in our country 55 years ago and thousands of civilians in Ukraine last year. ... The events of 55 years ago provide an answer to those who say that what is happening now in Ukraine is not our war and that we should not get involved in it and not help Ukraine.”

Petr Honzejk
Sme (SK) /

Russians can’t blame the Kremlin this time

For all the parallels, there is one essential difference between 1968 and today, Sme finds:

“The invasion in August ‘68 was carried out according to the will of the supreme political and military leadership, not of the citizens. ... Vladimir Putin was elected by the Russians themselves. ... Today it is hard to find out what Russians really think, whether practically all of them support the killing in Ukraine or only seventy percent. We don’t even know to what extent this is the result of their own convictions or the influence of propaganda. ... But whereas 55 years ago Soviet citizens could point to the Kremlin, today Russians must point at themselves. The Kremlin is their mirror.”

Peter Tkačenko