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Czechoslovakia Invasion – As In 1968, A Few Brave Russians Swim Against The Tide

Czechoslovakia Invasion - As In 1968, A Few Brave Russians Swim Against The Tide by EurasiaNet

A EurasiaNet Partner Post from: RFE/RL

On August 25, 1968, eight Soviet citizens walked out onto Red Square in Moscow and unfurled banners denouncing the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. "For your freedom and ours," read the most iconic of the banners they held.

The eight -- Larisa Bogoraz, Konstantin Babitsky, Tatyana Bayeva, Vadim Delaunay, Vladimir Dremlyuga, Viktor Fainberg, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, and Pavel Litvinov -- were among the very few of the country's 250 million population who were willing to pay the stiff price for standing up to the government.

"We decided to say: 'No, the entire Soviet people does not support this. We are ashamed. We do not support the Soviet Union in this open act of aggression,'" says Litvinov, who spent five years in Siberian exile for his 1968 statement and was allowed to emigrate in 1974, eventually settling in the United States. "This was a matter of honor, a matter of personal shame, and to the present day I am proud that I was one of the first people in the country to say that."

Just as it did 47 years ago, Russian society now faces a situation in which an overwhelming majority of the public supports a government that a small minority finds unconscionable. And members of that minority face social opprobrium and fearsome government sanction when they take the bold step of making their objections known.

Litvinov, 75, sees quite a few people in the Russia of President Vladimir Putin who can be considered heirs to the legacy established by Soviet-era dissidents like the 1968 Moscow protesters.

"A lot more people are speaking out today [than in 1968]...