Prague, Czech Republic – Czech lawmaker and deputy chair of the Communist party (KSCM) Stanislav Grospič sparked outrage earlier this week over comments he made about the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops.
Talking during an interview for Czech Radio, Stanislav Grospič explained why his party, at the exception of one single MP, refused to back the bill, passed last week by the Czech Parliament, declaring August 21st a national remembrance day in honour of the victims from the crushing of the Prague Spring.
“Our main premise is that it wasn’t an occupation. It was a tragic moment, and it wasn’t right. It was a forced entry by foreign troops, which was unfortunate, but the people who died were mainly victims of traffic accidents”, he said. “They deserve to be remembered and honoured, but they were not victims of any armed fights”.
His statement quickly sparked outrage across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Andrej Babis told journalists in Olomouc that “if he was serious, then he should definitely apologize […] Everyone knows that it was an invasion, it was an occupation and it had a terrible impact on the country”.
The Communist Party leadership has failed to distance itself from its deputy-chair’s comments. KCSM leader Vojtěch Filip doubled down and argued that “from the perspective of international law, it was an invasion, a forced entry, but it was not an occupation, because there was an agreement between the leadership of Czechoslovakia and the Warsaw Pact troops”.
Filip however added that party members and lawmakers should show more restraint in their comments and make sure they are in line with the party’s official stance. The Communist Party (KSCM) head also referred to a 1998 official party manifesto, in which KCSM defines the 1968 crushing of the Prague Spring by Soviet-led troops from the Warsaw Pact as a “violent intervention”.
Earlier this year, the Prague-based Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) published an interactive map providing an overview of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in 1968-1969 and shedding some light on the identity of everyone who died as a direct result of the invasion, as well as on the circumstances of their death.