Bratislava - Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw troops´ invasion of Czechoslovakia which was to put an end to the so-called "Prague Spring" reform process that was under way in the country.
The 1968 year's turbulent events are linked above all to one name - Alexandr Dubček, Slovak politician who spearheaded the reform process of which he has become an icon.
Dubček attempted to liberalize Czechoslovakia´s socialism, which eventually led the Soviet Union to interefere.
He remained popular among Czechoslovaks long after he was forcedly removed from power by the proponents of the newly introduced pro-Soviet regime, popularly known as the "normalization era".
Comeback and tragic accident
Dubček returned to politics during the events of late-1989 and 1990 that ended the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. In three years, though, the same country split into two parts. Independent Czech and Slovak states were founded on 1 January 1993 and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist for good.
Alexandr Dubček was not there to witness it, as he died on 7 November 1992 due to injuries he sustained in a car accident that took place on 1 September of the same year.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Invasion, Alexandr Dubček's son Pavol agreed to hold an online interview with readers of Aktuálne.sk, a Slovak "sister" of the Czech online daily Aktuálně.cz, about his father´s mysterious death, Russia´s Stalinist elite and courage.
Blame leaders, not nation
Pavol Dubček, who works as a surgeon, was 20 years old during the invasion.
He admitted that he had always put the blame on the Stalinist elite that ruled the Soviet Union back then, rather than on the Russian nation.
When asked about his attitude towards Russia, Dubček said "Russia is a large country that has been searching for its own ways despite the unfavorable conditions. And a nation cannot be blamed for its leaders."
Doubts over father's death
Repeatedly asked about his father's car crash and death in a hospital, Pavol Dubček confessed he still has doubts the car crash was really an accident.
"I wasn't satisfied neither with the investigation [of the car crash] nor with his medical treatment," Dubček said.
"There are still many unclear things I do not understand myself," he added.
Courage and progress
In the interview, he advocated the Prague Spring as "the first attempt to fight for democracy" and expressed his belief that were it not for the Soviet Invasion, the reform process would have been faster and the Communist regime would have fallen earlier.
"My grandpa was a social democrat in the USA when they [his family] had lived there, and he was teaching the ideas of social justice to his won family. My father adopted them and kept teaching the others," Dubček said in response to a question about what ideals he had inherited from his father.
Aktuálne.sk´s reader reminded Pavol Dubček that the socialism reform enthusiasm and subsequent dissapointment were experienced not only by Czechoslovaks in 1968 but by Poles in 1980, as the Polish Communist government reacted to the anti-Communist Solidarity movement by repression and martial law. He responded by admitting that "Every change, even a revolutionary one, is often blocked by crooked, treacherous people."
"But without courage and ideals, there would be no progress," claimed Pavol Dubček who repeatedly called his father "an idealist" but in a positive sense.
A. Dubček still respected
Many questions of the Akuálně.sk readers resonated bitterness derived from hypocrisy, spinelessness and amorality of the normalization era Communist elite as well as of nowadays´ Slovak politicians.
The readers generally expressed respect for Alexander Dubček and his attempts to reform the socialist system, although some blamed him for complying too easily with the Soviet occupants and Czech "normalizers" after the Prague Spring was crushed.
Few allegations of Dubček's links to people from the Communist secret service also appeared, which he denied.
Read more: IN PICTURES: 1968 Soviet Invasion in Brno