Thursday, 24 April 2014

Former dissident, post-1989 politician Battěk dies

18 March 2013

Prague, March 17 (CTK) - Rudolf Battek, former Czechoslovak dissident, sociologist and post-1989 politician, died Sunday aged 88, server writes Sunday, referring to sociologist Jirina Siklova.

In 1968, Battek co-founded the Club of Committed Non-Party Members (KAN) that promoted human rights and political pluralism before being banned by the Soviet occupiers invading the country.

In November 1989, Battek was among the leading representatives of the Civic Forum (OH), a broad movement crucially contributing to the dismantling of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

The then president Vaclav Havel presented Battek with the Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, a top state award, in 1997.

Before 1989, Battek was twice imprisoned for alleged subversion of the communist state.

He signed the pro-democracy Charter 77 document and joined the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted.

During the late 1989 "Velvet Revolution" he joined the then renewed Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD). The CSSD expelled him in June 1990 but its leadership scrapped the decision three years later.

Battek, nevertheless, did not return to the CSSD because in the meantime he had joined the Association of Social Democrats.

In 1996, Battek unsuccessfully ran as an independent candidate in the Senate elections in the Prague 8 ward.

Siklova described Battek as "the only [genuine] social democrat in this country."

His acquaintances included former German Social Democrat chancellor Willy Brandt and former Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme, Siklova told CTK.

Battek spent almost 10 years in communist prisons during the "normalisation" period of the hardline communist rule in the 1970s and 1980s, which is a half of the whole period, Siklova pointed out.

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