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The BBC's Ray Furlong
"Folk-singers sung the greatest hits of the Velvet Revolution"
 real 28k

Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 00:53 GMT
Czechs laugh off communism
Czech TV shows Czech-Soviet friendship pageant from before the revolution

By Ray Furlong in Prague

Czechs have been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution with a sense of humour.

Communism - the end of an era
A carnival atmosphere took over Wenceslas Square in central Prague as a mock version of communism was reconstructed.

Speeches were made calling for greater efforts to build socialism.

There was a fruit and vegetable shop that ran out of bananas and actors dressed as the People's Militia were on hand to keep order.

Singing at the Czech-Soviet friendship pageant
Members of the public took part in a game, queuing up to get stamps from state and party officials. The prize was a bowl of goulash.

Vaclav Pecha, in 1989 a 15-year-old demonstrator, helped organise the event.

He says that people are trying to relive history: "It's something they forgot about. And I think we need to remind them how horrible it was and the state of affairs right now may not be perfect, but it's definitely better than 10 years ago."

TV nostalgia

Czech television has taken up the idea.

It is broadcasting 24 hours of communist era programmes. Including such cultural artefacts as music from the Festival of Czechoslovak Soviet Friendship.

The project is aimed at giving a cold shower to people getting nostalgic for the old days - an increasing number, according to opinion polls, which show support for the Communist Party at 20-25%.

Czechs have also been going to rock concerts by artists who were banned during the Communist era.

About 3,000 people braved sub-zero temperatures to attend the concert, which was also carried live on Czech television.

President Vaclav Havel addressed the crowd. He repeated his catchphrase of the revolution: "Love and truth must prevail over lies and hatred."

The mood at the concert was emotional, at times reflective.


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See also:
16 Nov 99 |  Europe
Prague marks Velvet Revolution
18 Nov 99 |  Europe
In Pictures: The Velvet Revolution anniversary
18 Nov 99 |  Monitoring
Excerpts from Vaclav Havel's speech
16 Nov 99 |  Europe
Remembering the Velvet Revolution
18 Nov 97 |  Analysis
The velvet revolution

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