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Communists’ stance on February 1948 events stays unchanged

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Prague, Feb 25 (CTK) – The stance of the Czech Communist Party (KSCM) on the events that occurred in Czechoslovakia on February 25, 1948 has remained unchanged in the recent years, KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs told CTK on Thursday about the bloodless communist coup.

Some 1000 participants in a march to Prague Castle, the presidential seat, warned of the loss of memory, on the anniversary of the communist coup in Czechoslovakia, and they said the Communists’ return to power must be prevented.

They commemorated a protest march of students to the Castle in February 1948.

Dolejs said the Communists cannot ignore the fact that failures occurred and power was abused during their historical attempt. “This way of development of power was mistaken and we distance ourselves from these things,” he said.

“After all, the KSCM identity is based on this continuity and discontinuity with the past regime,” said Dolejs, who is considered one of the moderate representatives of the party.

The KSCM issued a written statement on the anniversary on Wednesday, claiming adherence to “the revolutionary legacy” of February 1948. The party said it appreciates the work and devotion of the generations of the developers of the first form of socialism.

The KSCM regretted tragic deformations and deficiencies that harmed the idea of socialism, it said.

However, it said it had already apologised to all those whose lives were affected by these deformations.

The Communist Party dismissed the view that the event was a coup.

“The anniversary of February 1948 annually gives an opportunity to revive the long-lasting campaign that wants to impose on the general public an inaccurate interpretation of the 1948 events and present the major political changes as a coup and deny the credibility of the fact that broad strata of the population took part in the changes,” KSCM declared.

“The impudence of the Communist Party and its representatives goes beyond all bounds of tolerance. I consider it madness,” Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats, ODS) told CTK in reaction to the KSCM’s statement.

This is the consequence of the fact that the Communist Party was not banned after the fall of the communist regime in November 1989, he added.

The era of the first communist president Klement Gottvald (1948-53) is the darkest chapter of Czech history, after the Nazi occupation, he said.

Unlike in some other post-communist countries, the Czech Communists have neither deleted the word “communist” from their name nor dissolved their party after the fall of the regime. As Czechoslovakia split in 1993, the party only divided in two, a Czech and a Slovak one.

The KSCM has defended its position in parliament in every general election since 1989 and it has always been in the opposition. With 33 members in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, it is currently the strongest opposition party.

In February 1948, the communists assumed control over the country after a government crisis that they apparently provoked. On February 25, 1948, President Edvard Benes accepted the resignation of 12 non-communist ministers and he appointed new ministers chosen by communist prime minister Gottwald.

Gottwald, who later became the country’s first communist president, is considered a Czech equivalent to Joseph Stalin. The KSCM hardliners continue to pay respect to him.

During the communist regime lasting from 1948 to 1989, about 250 people were executed for political reasons and about 4500 of more than 200,000 political prisoners died in prisons or labour camps. Some 170,000 people fled the country and several hundred died when trying to get across the heavily guarded border.

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