Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Pussy Riot

MOST Slovaks have no idea what “pussy” means or how “riot” is pronounced. Yet the combination has become rather popular in recent days. Concerns for freedom of speech, a dislike for autocrats, and simple human compassion are some of the reasons why the story of the Russian punk band has universal appeal. But in Slovakia the case also resonates with unique local experience.

MOST Slovaks have no idea what “pussy” means or how “riot” is pronounced. Yet the combination has become rather popular in recent days. Concerns for freedom of speech, a dislike for autocrats, and simple human compassion are some of the reasons why the story of the Russian punk band has universal appeal. But in Slovakia the case also resonates with unique local experience.

First, this week’s anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia reminds us of the special nature of relationships between Russia and its former satellites, which makes central European countries extra-sensitive to indications that Russia may be slipping back towards totalitarianism.

Then there is also an appreciation for the role artists can play in defeating dictatorships. In the 1960s, two songs became symbols of the resistance to Russian occupation – Karel Kryl’s “Little Brother, Shut the Door” (“My brother don’t you weep / They aren’t no monsters / You are grown up by now / They are only soldiers / They came in their edgy caravans of iron.”). And also Marta Kubišová’s “Prayer” (“May peace forever be with this land / Evil, envy, cries, fear and lies / Let them disappear, may they disappear.”). Writers formed the core of local dissent.

In Prague, the Velvet Revolution was led by playwright Václav Havel, in Bratislava, by actor Milan Kňažko. Students of performing arts were some of the first to join the movement. The departure of the Soviet Army was negotiated and supervised by rocker Michael Kocáb (and although his hit about being “with someone else’s woman, in someone else’s bed” also suggests an open-minded approach, it does fall somewhat short of group sex in a museum).

In short, clashes between oppressive regimes and creative, free-thinking people have a long tradition in this part of the world. Contrary to popular belief – when it comes to rioting, artists are no pussies.

Top stories

Automation is finding its way

Autonomous vehicles and process connections through Logistics 4.0 are the biggest trends in Slovakia.

Online retailer Amazon opened its new returns centre in Sereď in mid-November.

Innovations in logistics help fight competition

Representatives of logistics companies are talking about their latest innovations that should improve their market position.

Logistics companies need more innovate services.

Slovak Christmas - traditional and new Photo

A chain around the table legs and waiting for a golden pig. Some old Christmas traditions survive to this day and others have disappeared.

Culture minister resigns from post as deputy chair of Smer

His replacement is expected to be elected at the December party congress.

Culture Minister Marek Maďarič