They Were The First - remembering victims of Soviet terror
A small ceremony took place this week in Prague to commemorate a tragic and little-known episode in the country's past. As the Red Army advanced into Czechoslovakia in 1945, hundreds of Russian émigrés - who'd found refuge in the country after the 1917 revolution - were abducted by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, and taken back to Russia. Rob Cameron has been speaking to Vladimir Bystrov junior, whose grandfather was one of those abducted, and who's involved in a committee set up by his father, called They Were The First.
"Just two days after Red Army troops entered Prague, a group called SMERSH - a Russian abbreviation for 'Death to Spies', special forces of the Russian secret service the NKVD, came together with military troops to Prague and started to arrest and abduct selected - very sophisticatedly selected - representatives of these groups."
They were mostly Czechoslovak citizens - why did the Czechoslovak government do nothing to stop this?
"Well, the Czechoslovak government was first of all really surprised by such an activity by a foreign secret service."
But those activities were illegal, essentially.
What happened to them after they were abducted and taken back to Russia?
"In Russia they were criminalized, sentenced to a couple of years in special punishment camps, called gulags, in Siberia. From all those we know about, because the figures are really vague, we know about one fifth came back to their families."
And it's presumed that many of those were abducted died in those prison camps?
Has there been official apology from the Czech government?
That's on the Czech side. Has there been any acknowledge in Moscow of what the Soviet government did at that time?
"No way. That's not the way Russians act."