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TOP 09 MPs reject war veteran status for soldiers from invasion of Czechoslovakia

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Prague/Moscow, June 7 (CTK) – Czech lawmakers for the rightist opposition TOP 09 party criticised yesterday the proposal that the Soviet participants in the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 be granted the status of war veterans, which three Russian communist deputies submitted to the lower house of parliament.
The “Danube military-strategic operation” aimed at suppressing a coup in Czechoslovakia which the Czechoslovak opposition was preparing with support of Western countries.
The occupation crushed the communist-led reform movement, referred to as Prague Spring, in former Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Communist hardliners came to power and ruled the country until the end of 1989.
The Russian deputies said the operation was not in vain because “the economic potential of Czechoslovakia” was reinforced for the next 22 years.
After 1990, the countries of the former Warsaw Treaty “lost their national sovereignty and their economic potential and the inhabitants’ living standards were steeply lowered,” the Russian deputies wrote.
TOP 09 considers the arguments of the Russian deputies and their justification of the occupation as “a shameful falsification” of events.
“We reject any historical distortion of the events connected with the year 1968,” Karel Schwarzenberg, TOP 09’s honorary chairman, lawmaker and former foreign minister, party deputy chairman Marek Zenisek and MEP Jaromir Stetina wrote.
They called on Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) to summon the Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic for an explanation.
“At the same time, we demand him (Zaoralek) to assign the Czech ambassador to Moscow to act in this connection,” they wrote.
The Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on the Russian proposal, but Irena Valentova, from the press department, said a statement is being prepared.

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