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Russians in Prague

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  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 30, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

On “Russian traces” in the Czech Republic in the past and nowadays.

Interwar Czechoslovakia was an important centre for the Russian émigré community, whose number included important scholars, literati and intellectuals. While Czechs celebrated the arrival of the Red Army in May 1945, for Russian (Ukrainian and Belarusian) exiles, who had in many cases become Czechoslovak citizens, the end of WWII spelled disaster: death, imprisonment, the Gulag. The situation was all the more painful given that speaking about their fates was barred because recalling the non-Communist “Russia outside Russia” had no place in the Soviet-Russian imperial narrative. Who were these Russians? How was Czech-Russian coexistence at that time? How does today’s Russia view its past? And what kind of Russians (East Europeans) live in Prague and the Czech Republic today? Are they enriching to us? Or are they a challenge or threat?

The spark for the debate is the new book Rusové v Praze. Ruští intelektuálové v meziválečném Československu (Russians in Prague: Russian Intellectuals in Interwar Czechoslovakia), which was published in 2017 by Vydavatelství FF UK. Taking part in the discussion of the transformations in the Russian presence in Prague and the Czech Republic will be Alexej Kelin, a member of the Czech government’s Council for National Minorities, journalist Ondřej Soukup and Slavic Studies specialist Mychajlo Fesenko.

Historian and philosopher Petr Hlaváček will moderate the debate.

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Letter to Gustáv Husák – samizdat essay

„The Czechs and Slovaks, like any other nation, harbour within themselves simultaneously the most disparate potentialities. We have had, still have, and will continue to have our heroes, and equally, our informers and traitors.“

Václav Havel:
Letter to Gustáv Husák – samizdat essay, April 8, 1975

Václav Havel’s Prague