The Czech relationship to Russia has undergone several changes in the past, and it has been shaped by the pan-Slavic dreams in the 19th and early 20th century, the perception of Russia as a liberator of Czechoslovakia in the World War II, and the traumatic experience of Russia-led invasion in the course of the Prague Spring. In particular the last mentioned event is still quite important in the Czech society and affects the present perception of Russia. The debates which have occurred as a result of the Crimean crisis have brought many of the old fears and national traumas (not only those ones related to Russia) to the surface. Along with the present-day interests, they have led to discussions about where to look for the right historical parallel to the Crimean crisis.
The death of Vasil Biľak, a communist politician, in February 2014 provoked a shitstorm in Slovak online debate platforms. In spite of the generally accepted principle of not speaking ill of the dead, in this case it was seen as legitimate by many debaters to violate it. The reason for the justification of these violations lies in the perception of Biľak as a traitor of his country who collaborated with the Russians. The journalist Tomáš Gális wrote in an introduction to his article “Stúpal a postúpal” (He moved up the ladder and trampled others down) that it is possible to find something positive about other communist politicians but not about Biľak. Continue reading Blame it all on “them”!