Host of events marking 15th anniversary of start of Velvet Revolution


There are an unprecedented number of special events taking place this November 17th, a state holiday which marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. They include a service in memory of Jan Opletal, an anti-Communist reenactment of the 1989 demonstration quelled by riot police on Narodni Street and a big concert entitled Narodni Otherwise.

November 1989, photo: CTK
One of the most interesting is a religious service on Wednesday morning dedicated to Jan Opletal, a medical student killed by the Nazis in 1939. It was a memorial to him fifty years later in 1989 which turned into the first demonstration of the Velvet Revolution, when students broke away from the authorized route and marched into the centre of Prague.

On Wednesday afternoon that 1989 march is being reenacted as a protest against the present-day Communist Party, called Podzim bez komunistu (Autumn Without Communists). It leaves Albertov at 16:00 and follows the original route to Narodni Street, then on to Wenceslas Square. Of course, the 1989 demonstrators never got that far: they were halted on Narodni by Communist riot police.

That is being followed by a big event named Narodni Jinak (Narodni Otherwise), which will feature music performances by the likes of Zluty Pes and Cechomor. "Velvet" president Vaclav Havel and his successor Vaclav Klaus are expected to attend.

There will also be a "ceremonial gathering" at the Chamber of Deputies, attended by the two Vaclavs and all of the Czech Republic's leading politicians.