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Czechoslovakia | John Feffer
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Sixty Seconds of Art

I was sitting in a café in Bratislava, having a final cup of coffee and picking up my email before boarding a train for Budapest. I was dimly aware of a couple of guys in another part of the café dismantling film equipment as if after a shoot. I was in a hurry, so I wasn’t paying much attention. But then one of the guys came over to my table. “You look like that Apple fellow,” he said to...
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The Dam

It says a lot about Hungary in the 1980s that the movement that represented the biggest challenge to the Communist authorities was an environmental one. In Romania, dissidents focused on a tyrant. In Poland, striking Solidarity activists protested against working conditions and in support of labor rights. And in Hungary, the rallying point of the opposition was a dam. It was actually an entire...
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The Sound of Music

The break-up of Czechoslovakia was generally amicable. There were grumbles from people in both parts of the country about the lack of a referendum. Some families found themselves split between two separate states. The Czechs had to travel abroad to ski the Tatra Mountains, and Slovaks had to study abroad if they were accepted at Charles University in Prague. Everything that was fixed to the...
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Running Political Campaigns in Slovakia

The campaign against Vladimir Meciar in 1998 launched many young Slovaks into politics. Young people were instrumental in the 1998 elections – as election observers, media monitors, and civil society activists – that broke Meciar’s authoritarian hold over the Slovak political system. Many of those young people remained in politics, either joining political parties or maintaining the NGOs...
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Televising Religion

In broad strokes, religion became more important for people in East-Central Europe over the last 20 years and less important for people in Western Europe. According to the European Values Survey, church attendance jumped in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia whereas it declined throughout the West. Even in places where church attendance in the east remained very low – Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary –...
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