Russian presence divides Czechs 50 years after Prague Spring

A few times a day, an elderly Czech person will pay a visit to the photography exhibition in Prague’s Old Town Hall, which
chronicles the crushing of the Prague Spring by Moscow in 1968, and complain as they leave.

“‘The Russians are here again,’ they grumble to me,” said the curator, Dana Kyndrová, describing locals’ views on the
thousands of Russian tourists who visit Prague each week and the 30,000 Russians who have residency permits in the
Czech Republic.
Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of Moscow sending half a million troops from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact
countries to crush the reformist government in Czechoslovakia led by Alexander Dubček, which had been attempting to
implement “socialism with a human face”.

A debate is raging about whether Russia poses a strategic threat to the country today or whether relations should be
improved with Moscow in spite of EU sanctions.

Most politicians in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia see Russia as a threat, but the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, is
an outspoken admirer of Vladimir Putin, while Slovakia was one of a handful of EU countries not to expel any Russian
diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March, after disagreement among the ruling coalition.

For some of the older generation, the anger at the Soviet Union from 1968 carries over on to modern Russia and Russians.
Kamila Moučková, a television newscaster who was arrested during a live broadcast in August 1968, has said in interviews
with the Czech media that even now she finds it hard to be civil towards Russians.