Death toll in Prague Spring invasion revealed


PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia -- A previously secret Interior Ministry report published Tuesday disclosed that 82 Czechoslovakians were killed in 1968 when Warsaw Pact tanks and troops rolled into the nation to crush the Prague Spring reforms of Alexander Dubcek.

The newspaper of President Vaclav Havel's Civic Forum organization, Obcanske Dennik, printed the report and said it was distributed after the invasion only to the country's five top Communist leaders.


The report said that by Sept. 28, 1969, about five weeks after the Soviet-led invasion put an end to the reforms championed by Dubcek, 82 people had been killed, 300 seriously injured and 500 otherwise injured by the five invading Warsaw Pact armies.

Most of the victims had been shot, the report said. Many had been standing in groups or on balconies, it said.

The article described the carnage in Liberec, where Havel, then a playwright, wrote reports for clandestine anti-Soviet radio broadcasts.

Even since last November's Velvet Revolution overthrew the Communist regime installed by the Soviets, Czechoslovakians have never publicly venerated citizens felled by the Soviets in 1968.

Instead, the great martyr of the invasion has been Jan Palach, a 19-year-old university student who immolated himself the following January in Prague's Wenceslaus Saquare to protest the continuing Soviet occupation.


The publication of the report came as Soviet Foreign Minstry spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov, visiting Prague Tuesday, said the Soviet Union's 1956 invasion of Hungary and the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia were inexcusable.

'We are in the process of reassessing our history right now,' Gerasimov told reporters in Prague. 'Certainly the 1956 events in Hungary, as well as the 1968 events in Czechoslovakia, must be considered inadmissable.'

About 32,000 people were killed in the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Its brutal repression by the Soviet Army marked the first time the Soviet Union used force to keep one of its satellites within the Soviet orbit.

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