Press Advisories

31. 3. 2016 21:35

Prime Minister honours former Radio Free Europe staff

On Thursday 31 March 2016, during his trip to Washington, DC, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka honoured the people from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who had been instrumental in the relocation of its headquarters to Prague. He also paid tribute to Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk on the 166th anniversary of his birth.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka awarded a Karel Kramář Medal to the former director of the Czechoslovak Section of Radio Free Europe’s broadcasting, Pavel Pecháček, and to the former president of Radio Free Europe, Kevin Klose. Both of them played a key role in the decision to ship Radio Free Europe’s editorial board from Munich to Prague in 1995. The Prime Minister decided to award the medals to mark the 20th anniversary of Radio Free Europe’s operations in Prague, the celebrations of which were held last year.

“The launch of Radio Free Europe broadcasting from Prague was a groundbreaking moment when I felt that our democracy had come of age. No longer was it to broadcast to us in the East, but from us in the West. To this day, Radio Free Europe has remained a powerful symbol of the values linking us to the United States, and of our joint commitment to champion respect for human rights around the world,” said Prime Minister Sobotka on this occasion.

Pavel Pecháček started working for Free Europe as an émigré in 1968. From 1975, he managed the Czechoslovak section of Voice of America in Washington, DC. In 1989, he was placed in charge of Czech broadcasts of Free Europe and was involved in the station’s transformation into Czech Radio 6. He currently lives in Washington, DC.

Kevin Klose the other honouree, together with Václav Havel he made a major contribution to the idea of relocating Free Europe from Munich to Prague. He headed Radio Free Europe from 1994 to 1997 and then again from 2013 until last year. The erstwhile editor of The Washington Post, he was also at the helm of National Public Radio, a American public-service station, for 10 years. He continues to work as a university professor.

The Karel Kramář Medal is a commemorative medal awarded by the Prime Minister as a token of gratitude for demonstrable service in the restoration of democracy and human rights and liberties. The medal was crafted to mark the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the first Czechoslovak government and was named after the first Czechoslovak prime minister, Karel Kramář.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty currently broadcasts in 28 languages to 21 countries, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and several former Soviet republics.

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