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PM warns of Russia when remembering 1968 invasion

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Prague, Aug 21 (CTK) – Russia intervened in Ukraine’s sovereignty, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Friday at a ceremony remembering the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia that put an end to the Prague Spring reform Communist movement 47 year ago.

The military intervention in Czechoslovakia discredited definitely the barrack-like socialism of the Soviet type, Sobotka said.

“As Ukraine lost a part of its sovereign territory and the principles of international law were grossly violated, one can draw a certain parallel,” he added.

August 21, 1968 can be placed alongside March 15, 1939, the beginning of Nazi occupation, and February 25, 1948, the day of the Communist coup, Sobotka said.

“Our sovereignty was violated, our effort to instal freedom and democracy was suppressed,” Sobotka said.

It is important that a number of Communist hard-liners from the 1970s and 1980s lived to see 1989 when the power system they had built and maintained collapsed, he added.

Speaking at the ceremony devoted to the event, Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) also spoke about Russia’s policy on Ukraine.

Stech said it was a mistake to believe that the events of August 1968 were a distant past.

The tense times have reappeared, he added.

“Russia carried out again an invasion, occupying Crimea, a territory of independent Ukraine,” Stech said.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be technically closed, but in reality, the hostilities continue,” he added.

The Warsaw Pact troops crossed the Czechoslovak state border on the night of August 21. The invasion claimed 108 lives by the end of 1968.

Several unarmed demonstrators died outside the Czechoslovak Radio building in August 1968 where politicians laid wreathes to honour them Friday.

The daily Lidove noviny wrote on Thursday that the Military History Institute had for the first time counted the number of civilian victims of the stay of the Soviet military from 1968 to 1991.

The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia claimed 402 lives, mostly due to road accidents, the historians said, although the total figure may be higher since many documents were shredded in the past.

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