PRESIDENT Andrej Kiska called the invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968 by Warsaw Pact countries one of the darkest events in modern Slovak history.

“After this affair, the legacy of personal tragedies, betrayal, humiliation, lack of freedom as well as huge damages to property and the environment remained,” Kiska said in his press release. “Let us remember the victims, and do not forget the causes and consequences of the occupation in August 1968.”

The invasion was the beginning of the violent suppression of the country’s democratisation process known as the “Prague Spring” and introduced the programme of “normalisation” – the restoration of the Communist Party’s influence in Czechoslovakia. Around half a million soldiers from the USSR, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria marched through Czechoslovakia, leaving at least 108 people dead and more than 500 seriously injured, according to the Sme daily.

“The year 1968 was a turning point in the perception of the Soviet Union, which had been presented through various celebrations as our liberator until then,” said Milan Zeman, a sociologist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), as quoted by Sme. “August destroyed hope and caused deep trauma to generations that believed in a change of the situation from the 50s and the democratisation of society.”

During his presidential campaign, Kiska said that he would demand from Russia the original invitation letter. The letter, in which Czechoslovak representatives asked Russia to stop the counter-revolution in their country, was given to Leonid Brezhnev, who was then at the helm of the Soviet Union.

Kiska could approach Russian representatives during the celebrations of the Slovak National Uprising in late August, but he rejected the idea claiming that the event is of a celebratory character.