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Velvet Revolution, 1989

Stanislav J. Kirschbaum


There are two names given to the events of November-December 1989 that brought about the collapse of the communist regime of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. “Velvet Revolution” is the name that the Czechs give these events and that is used in the West. There are many theories about the origin of the term; what is known is that it was used by a journalist after the first demonstrations and that it gained international currency thereafter. In Slovakia, on the other hand, from the very beginning these events have always been referred to as the “Gentle Revolution.” The public demonstrations, strikes, political meetings, and formation of political groups that provoked the collapse of state socialism in the former Czechoslovakia were preceded by a series of major political changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the previous year and a half. In June 1988 Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev all but abandoned the Brezhnev doctrine, which stipulated that the USSR and other socialist countries had a duty to come to the aid of any state where forces hostile to socialism were trying to turn its development towards capitalism. CPSU general secretary Leonid Brezhnev had developed this doctrine to justify the military invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and, retroactively, that of Hungary in 1956 . The doctrine gave communist ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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