The Slovak and Czech Presidents, Ivan Gašparovič and Václav Klaus, laid flowers on August 21 at Šafárikovo Square in Bratislava, at a memorial commemorating the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of Soviet-led armed invaders in August 1968. August 21 marks the 40th anniversary of the invasion.
Among the victims honoured was Ján Holík, a ship’s captain of Československá Plavba Dunajská, who was shot twice in the face by Soviet soldiers, in front of Comenius University in Bratislava.
President Gašparovič said that the day represents “a black spot on our common history. The fact that the Czech President is today here and the Slovak Prime Minister is in Prague indicates that we actually realize it," he added.
President Klaus stated that August 21 of 1968 was the beginning of the end of communism in Czechoslovakia. Its erosion continued for two decades before finally ending in November 1989.
The two presidents later attended an exhibition of photographs of the events of August 1968, taken by photographer Ladislav Bielik. "I hope that the generations which unlike us did not experience this period visit the exhibition as well, so that this matter is never forgotten," said President Klaus. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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21. Aug 2008 at 19:00