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

General Prosecutor filed a motion for the dissolution of ĽSNS

The Slovak Supreme Court received a motion to dissolve the extreme right ĽSNS party founded and led by Marian Kotleba.

Jaromír Čižnár

Russian spies allegedly recruit also Slovaks

They are using martial art clubs in Germany and dozens more in other EU states, in the Western Balkans, and in North America.

Illustrative stock photo

EC scrutinises state aid for Jaguar Photo

There is a question whether the scrutiny may impact the carmaker’s plans to invest in Slovakia.

The construction site of a brand new plant of Jaguar Land Rover near Nitra.

GLOBSEC forum will host guests from 70 countries

The 12th year of the conference will be attended by the highest number of participants in its history.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska gives the opening speech of The Globsec 2016 security conference.