One of the strongest uprisings against communism during the Cold War was recently rewritten by a state-run television network in Russia — and in its version, the villain of the storied "Prague Spring" of 1968 is NATO.
In the more than two months since this curious "documentary" was first aired and then reported in numerous international outlets such as The Financial Times, the governments of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia — the results of the 1993 breakup of Czechoslovakia — have heatedly denounced the film "Warsaw Pact: Pages Declassified."
The controversial film has still not been repudiated or explained by the Putin regime.
"Warsaw Pact: Pages Declassified," which was broadcast by Russian-1 Television on May 23, maintains that the 1968 invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia by the then-Soviet Union was a pre-emptive and quite justifiable raid because it thwarted "the illegal armed overthrow of the government" by radical Czechs with ties to the West.
The strike by Russian tanks in August 1968 occurred, according to the film, as NATO tanks were "ready to enter Czechoslovakia."
The saga of the Prague Spring that the world knows is much different. After assuming the position of first secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in January 1968, reformer Alexander Dubcek offered an agenda he called "socialism with a human face" that included a loosening of the communist grip on society and greater freedom of expression.
On Aug. 5, Soviet strongman Leonid Brezhnev ordered tanks into Czechoslovakia to seize control of the capital city of Prague and arrest Dubcek.
Dubcek was eventually replaced as party boss in April 1969 and expelled from the Communist Party. He went on to work in a variety of menial jobs and from 1970 to 1988, much like South Africa's Nelson Mandela during his years in prison, Dubcek's name and image were banned in public. With the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, he re-emerged as a hero. He died in 1992.
"Broadcasting this documentary, which attempts to rewrite history and to falsify historical truths, damages the traditionally good relations between Slovakia and Russia," spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Peter Stano, told reporters.
Stano added that the film is a "misleading presentation of the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies in Czechoslovakia.
"We insist on respecting the truth about the events of 1968, which meant a great and long-lasting tragedy for Czechoslovakia and its citizens," he said.
Also weighing in against the film was Petr Gandalovic, Czech ambassador to the United States, who told Newsmax it was "an aggressive documentary. It is not the case of journalistic independence, but it is the voice of Putin's administration."
Gandalovic went on to brand the Russian film "really untrue, a lie, and it should be disparaged. We cannot allow that history is disrespected. One can only hypothesize why Russian state TV is airing such an aggressive documentary."
Stano is "confident that the government of the Russian Federation will take the appropriate steps to prevent the distortion of this tragic chapter of the history of Slovak-Russian bilateral relations."
But, so far, Russia has taken no such steps and its embassy was not available for comment.
Asked by Newsmax on June 10 about reports of the controversial Russian film in The Financial Times, White House press secretary Josh Earnest replied: "I'm sure somebody in the administration is aware of this, but I'm not. And again, I missed my copy of The Financial Times today."
Joely Friedman, a senior at Ohio State University, is a National Journalism Center intern at Newsmax's Washington D.C. bureau
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