Russia’s Threat to the Czechs Fell on an Ominous Anniversary

Yesterday, when Putin’s chief of staff General Yuri Baluyevsky issued his frightening warning to the Czech Republic that the installation of a U.S. missile shield would be “a mistake,” many of us failed to notice the ominous anniversary that coincided. Thirty-nine years before on that exact date, citizens awoke to learn that their dreams of liberty were crushed as Warsaw Pact troops under orders from the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to destroy the Prague Spring, killing about 79 people, wounding hundreds, and forcing Alexander Dubcek to sign the Moscow Protocols allowing for the occupation of the country. I was first made aware of this historically charged coincidence by the Italian newspaper Correire della Sera. So we can be sure that when the Russians talk tough of “mistakes” and urging what they believe to be Prague’s best interests, it is not difficult to see where the skepticism comes from – even if they are backing the highly respected former Czech PM Josef Tosovsky for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.