Alexander Dubcek

Sakharov Prize Laureate 1989
dubcek Alexander Dub ek (1921-1992) was the leading figure in the reform movement known as the Prague Spring in 1968 Czechoslovakia.

The son of a family committed to building socialism in the Soviet Union, in 1939 he secretly joined the Communist Party and the underground resistance against the pro-German Slovak state.

In 1968 Dub ek, a devoted communist, became the new First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and sought to liberalize the Communist regime. He began a series of reforms, granting the press greater freedom of expression, rehabilitating victims of the Stalin era political purges, and initiating economic reforms and a wide-ranging democratization of Czechoslovak political life. However, his reforms aroused concern in Moscow and his endeavours to give socialism a human face were shattered on 21 August 1968 by Warsaw Pact tanks seizing control of Prague. Dub ek was kidnapped by the KGB, taken to the Kremlin and briefly detained.

In 1970, he was accused of treason, stripped of office and expelled from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. For fifteen years he lived as an ordinary worker and only returned to political life as a civil rights activist in 1988. When he was awarded the Sakharov Prize on 22 November 1989, Dub ek was still a citizen deprived of his human rights , but just a few days later, on 28 November, Czechoslovakia's Communist Party relinquished its hold on power, toppled by the Velvet Revolution.

'I am sure convinced that the "breath of freedom" which the Czechs and the Slovaks enjoyed when Dub ek was their leader was a prologue to the peaceful revolutions now taking place in Eastern Europe and Czechoslovakia itself,' Sakharov wrote in a message to Parliament on 10 December 1989, just four days before he died. After the 1989 revolution in Czechoslovakia, Dub ek was elected Chairman of the Federal Assembly from 1989 to 1992. Addressing Parliament in January 1990 as he received his Sakharov Prize, Dub ek noted that 'even during the most difficult moments of their history, the nations which make up my country have never ceased to feel that they are part of humanity's great struggle for freedom' and from Prague Spring to Velvet Revolution, 'the ideals of freedom, sovereignty and social justice remained alive'.

Alexander Dub ek died in of a car accident in November 1992. .