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21. 8. 2008 9:58

August 21, 2008: Premier Awarded Commemorative Medals to Ten Dissidents from 1968

Ten foreign dissidents, who took part in the protests abroad against the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, today received the Karel Kramář commemorative medals from Czech Premier Mirek Topolánek. The Prime Minister also inaugurated an exhibition called "For Your Freedom and Ours" held in the garden of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, which is open to the public during the weekends. 

"It took a lot of courage to stand up against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Treaty troops in August 1968 when you were living in the territory of one of the then invading countries. You mustered up that courage and demonstrated in this way that the Prague Spring had not been so brutally ended by Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Germans or Bulgarians. Not by the people of those countries. It was the then Soviet imperialism that occupied our country," Premier Mirek Topolánek told the dissidents. 

"The protests in August 1968 confirmed that freedom is indivisible. That by curtailing the freedom of one individual, his relatives and friends are losing part of their freedom as well. That we have common responsibility to uphold freedom not only at home but all over the world, that we have an obligation to defend this freedom. That is why you showed great personal courage," the Premier added. His entire speech is available on the Government portal 

The exhibition marking the fortieth anniversary of the events in August 1968 describes the protests against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Treaty troops staged in the other socialist countries. Called "For Your Freedom and Ours", the exhibition is held under the auspices of Czech Premier Mirek Topolánek. It was prepared by the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The author of the concept and editor of the exhibition is Petr Blažek. The individual exhibition panels are installed in the garden of the Straka Academy, the official seat of the Czech Government, which is open to the public during the weekends until the end of October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The commemorative medals awarded by the Czech Premier are neither a decoration nor a material award but a symbol. They are presented by the Czech Premier to those whom the Premier as a politician decides to thank for their demonstrable merits for the restoration of democracy, human rights and freedoms. The award of the medals is in accordance with the constitutional principles of the Czech Republic. 

Photos from the exhibition, sound recording of the Premier´s speech and additional information may be found on the Government portal A list of the decorated people is on the following page. 

List of Decorated Foreign Dissidents:

1. Agnes Heller ,Hungary (born in 1929), a philosopher who has been awarded a number of distinctions and honorary doctorates; after 1968 she signed a protest declaration in Korchula against the Soviets.

2. Tereza Ordylowska, Poland (born in 1935), protested against the occupation even though she had two small children: distributed leaflets, persuading people to protest; she was sentenced to one year in jail.

3. Natalia Gorbanievka, Russia (born in 1936), demonstrated in the Red Square several days after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, one of the legendary “Magnificent Seven“, a Russian poetess, translator and human rights campaigner.

4. Viktor Fainberg,  Russia (born in 1937), demonstrated in the Red Square several days after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, one of the legendary “Magnificent Seven“, after the demonstration he was committed to a psychiatric ward and declared insane, he went on a hunger strike lasting 112 days.

5. Pavel Litvinov, Russia (born in 1940), demonstrated in the Red Square several days after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, one of the legendary “Magnificent Seven“, he “paid“ for his part in the demonstration by five years of internal exile in Siberia, he was later forced to emigrate.

6. Bernd Eisenfeld, Germany (born in 1941), in August 1968 he took part in the protests against the occupation, he sent a wire to the Czechoslovak Embassy in East Berlin, during the night of September 21, 1968 he distributed his own leaflets, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

7. Francizska Groszer, Germany (born in 1945), a writer and author of many books for children and youth; soon after her first performances and readings of her own texts she was banned from public appearances, and in 1977 she was expelled to the Federal Republic of Germany.

8. Toni Krahl,  Germany (born in 1949), a rock musician who was sentenced to a prison term for distributing leaflets and taking part in a demonstration against the involvement of the German Democratic Republic in the intervention on August 21, 1968; his punishment was later commuted to a suspended sentence.
9. Aleksandr Dimitrov,  Bulgaria (born in 1947), he produced and distributed dozens of leaflets with the text “Puppet Zhivkov´s Troops Out of Czechoslovakia“. When he learnt of the Red Square demonstration in Moscow, he and his friends produced other leaflets. In 1969 he was sentenced to two years in jail for his protests against the occupation of Czechoslovakia.
10. Kornel MORAWIECKI,  Poland, protested against the occupation and the self-immolation of Jan Palach, organized distribution of leaflets, later joined the Solidarity movement.

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