Blogging From the Communist Parliament Building

On January 5, 1968 when Alexander Dubček came to power in Czechoslovakia, the people of Prague held a Spring Uprising in Prague. The people of Czechoslovakia took to the streets to protest for freedom and democracy.

The West quickly termed the uprosing the “Prague Spring” after the event became known worldwide. This was eventually adopted in Czechoslovakia itself. It made reference to the Springtime of Peoples, a lyrical title given to the European Revolutions of 1848.

On the night of August 20-21, 1968, Eastern Bloc armies from five Warsaw Pact countries invaded the ČSSR. During the invasion, Soviet tanks ranging in numbers from 5,000 to 7,000 occupied the streets. They were followed by a large number of Warsaw Pact troops ranging from 200,000 to 600,000.


During the attack of the Warsaw Pact armies, 72 Czechs and Slovaks were killed -19 of those in Slovaki- and hundreds were wounded.

The Soviet Union successfully clamped down on Czechoslovakia.

Today a photograph of the “Prague Spring” hangs in the offices at Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Prague, Czech Republic.

If you look closely at the picture (click to enlarge) you will see construction on a building in the backround. That building is the current home of Radio Free Europe.

But, it wasn’t always the home of radio broadcasts promoting freedom.

In a previous life, the building was the home of the Czechoslovakian Communist Parliament.

Today Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty broadcasts to Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Southwestern Asia. Radio Free Europe is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The communications service airs programs in countries stretching from Belarus to Bosnia and from the Arctic Sea to the Persian Gulf.

Today, while in Prague a couple of us took a tour of the Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty facilities and interviewed a number of the freedom activists working in the the former communist Parliament Building.

The Belarus reporters at RFE told us that Radio Free Belarus website is one of the top 10 information sources in Belarus. It’s radio station has a huge following in Belarus.

The head of the Afghanistan RFE reported that the current Radio Free Afghanistan, which has been operating for 5 years, is the leading radio channel in Afghanistan!

The station broadcasts news, gives information of services, plays music and has very popular call-in shows. 70% of Afghans tune into Radio Free Afghanistan. The station even reunites families from the war-torn country. This has helped build trust from listeners in the infant democracy.

Radio Farda is the Iranian Channel at Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty. Currently, one of its reporters, Parnaz (Nazi) Azima is being detained in Iran by the regime. Her Iranian passport was taken from her upon arrival in Tehran in late January, after traveling there from the United States to visit her hospitalized and terminally ill mother. The passport has yet to be returned; Azima has been approached to collaborate with Iranian authorities during her efforts to reclaim her passport. Azima has been an employee of RFE/RL since September 1998, working for RFE/RL’s Persian Service in its incarnations as Radio Azadi and Radio Farda.

Radio Farda is the most popular foreign broadcaster in Iran. The popular music entices their audience to tune in. The station broadcasts on an AM frequency and not FM. The mullahs jam the frequency during the evening broadcasts. Their network of correspondants are undercover and risk imprisonment in Iran.

The people who work at Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty- Radio Free Belarus, Afghanistan, and Iran- are all very proud of the important work they do.
And, they ought to be.

These last two photos show the hall of the Communist Parliament Building.

Today their are no communist flags or Lenin busts taking up space in the building.

However… Old Glory does hang from the rafters!

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