The "Velvet Revolution" (Czech: sametová revoluce, Slovak: nežná revolúcia) (November 16 – December 29, 1989) refers to a bloodless revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the communist government there.
On November 17, 1989, a peaceful student demonstration in Prague was severely beaten back by the riot police. That event sparked a set of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million. A general two-hour strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.
With other communist regimes falling all around it, and with growing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 they would give up their monopoly on political power. Barbed wire was removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On December 10, the Communist President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29 1989.
As one of the results of the Velvet Revolution, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June, 1990, and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechoslovakia in over forty years.
Role of rock musicEdit
Rock music, especially that of Frank Zappa and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and the Czech band Plastic People of the Universe, inspired Counterculture leaders such as Vaclav Havel (the Czech playwright, human rights campaigner who later became president) and other dissidents during their struggle against Soviet rule.
According to an interview given Punk magazine, Lou Reed claimed that when he visited Vaclav Havel after the Velvet Revolution's success, Havel presented Reed with a locally printed edition of Velvet Underground song lyrics in Czech translation. Such books had been compiled by dissidents while in prison, Havel told Reed. Havel, says Reed, explained to the surprised rock singer that the Czech counter culture had taken the name of its bloodless revolution from the name of Reed's band, Velvet Underground.
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