Dubček, Alexander

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Dubček, Alexander

Alexander Dubček (ä´lĕksän´dĕr dŏŏb´chĕk), 1921–92, Czechoslovakian political leader. A member of the Slovakian national minority, he was active in the Communist underground in World War II and rose in the party hierarchy after the war, becoming head of the Slovakian Communist party and a member of the presidium of the Communist party's central committee. In 1967 he led the liberal opposition to the party's first secretary, Antonín Novotný. In Jan., 1968, Novotný was forced to resign; Dubček succeeded him. In Dubček's brief term in office he relaxed censorship, placed liberal Communists in leading state posts, began to pursue an independent foreign policy, and promised a gradual democratization of Czech political life. This period is known as the Prague Spring. The USSR became increasingly alarmed at Dubček's policies, and in Aug., 1968, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact armies invaded Czechoslovakia. Dubček was arrested along with other leaders, taken to Moscow, and forced to consent to the cancellation of key reforms. He retained his post as first secretary, but pro-Soviet elements in the Czech party soon (1969) removed him. After serving briefly as ambassador to Turkey (1969–70), he fell into official disgrace. He returned to public view in the late 1980s as a supporter of the Civic Reform opposition party led by Václav Havel. From 1989 to 1992, Dubček served as speaker of the Czechoslovak parliament, where his presence provided a direct connection between the new government and the reforms of the Prague Spring.

See K. Dawisha, The Kremlin and the Prague Spring (1984).

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