Showing posts with label Czechoslovakia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Czechoslovakia. Show all posts

20 March 1989

Conferenza di Alexander Yakovlev, membro del Politburo del PCUS, Parlamento italiano

Conferenze alquanto noiosa e di stampo vetero-comunista, nonostante Y. sia uno dei principali collaboratori di Gorbachev e uno dei principali sostenitori della trasformazione in atto in Urss: lunghe disquisizioni, ripetitive e a volte petulanti. Molto più interessante il periodo di domande e risposte, durante il quale è emerso uno Yakovlev molto più conservatore di quanto non ci fosse stato dipinto dai media occidentali.

Y. ha detto di non sapere ancora quale potrà essere la struttura della "casa europea", ma è certo che la struttura attuale dell'Europa è superata. Y. è convinto che in futuro si "riderà" quando si sentirà parlare di strutture inibitorie del contatti, come ad esempio il COCOM.

Y. sostiene che la "cosiddetta Dottrina Brezhnev" non è mai esistita come tale in URSS. É stata inventata in Occidente e chi l'ha inventata probabilmente ha guadagnato molto dal successo che ha avuto. Dice che in quel periodo non era nel gruppo dirigente dell'URSS, anzi era per lunghi periodo all'estero, ma è convinto che non sia stata mai discussa in URSS

Se qualcuno degli stati dell'Europa orientale volesse uscire dal Patto di Varsavia lo dovrà decidere democraticamente per conto suo. Ad una domanda su cosa pensasse del '68 in Cecoslovacchia, ha risposto: "Cosa potrei pensare? Cosa pensa lei che io pensi?" Su Dubcek: "Preferisco tacere."

Ad una domanda sulla riforma dei prezzi Y. ha risposto che bisognerà essere cauti, che non si potrà fare in fretta, soprattutto per i prezzi al dettaglio.

22 June 1980

Driving south, policemen and lake Balaton

We wake up at 8 after a good night's sleep and head out to visit the house where Cathy's father lived before emigrating to the United States. It's a modest house but in fairly good shape. Who knows what it looked like when he was here?

For dinner Cathy's family serves us some hearty boszcz, lots of proteins and vitamins to take us through the day. After lunch we bid farewell and head south, toward the border. No problem with Polish customs, all our stuff gets through no questions asked.

We are back in Czechoslovakia and this time we manage to get through without getting lost or running into Soviet military bases. Can't help but notice the innumerable monuments to Soviet military equipment that dot the road. Kind of eerie, anyway better than the other military we met when we transited the country northbound.

We reach Budapest in the late afternoon and start looking for a hotel, but prices are way too high for our budget, so we decide to drive on.

As we progress along the main highway we stop occasionally to look for a place to sleep. Some camping grounds are cheap enough but fully booked. We decide to drive on, maybe all the way to Italy! At this point two policemen stop us and start looking for trouble. They check our passports, Giallina's papers, our tires, everything is fine. Or almost fine: they find that the light of Giallina's rear plate is broken. They say we must pay a fine of 200 forints (about 10 official US dollars, there is almost no black market for currency here, the black rate is abut 30, only fifty percent higher). We could pay but their attitude is irritating and we decide to dispute the fine. What follows is an endless discussion, they are clearly trying to take advantage of us foreigners to pocket some cash. But we finally manage to tire them out and drive on.

It's pretty late when we reach lake Balaton and find a nice little hotel for 5 dollars per room! We are not sure exactly where we are, but the area is pleasant and well maintained. Balaton is the main resort region of Hungary and a destination for many tourists from the socialist brother countries. Our fleeting impression of Hungary is that the standard of living is higher than Poland.

19 February 1980

Arrested in a Warsaw Pact military base. (This is not a joke.)

What happened on this day deserves special attention as it was one of the defining days of my life. It was not funny when it happened, though it made for countless hilarious conversation afterwards.

We left Vienna in the morning and crossed into Czechoslovakia with transit visa, with the goal of reaching Poland by the end of the day. We clear the border quickly, little more than ten minutes. Barbed wire as far as the eye can see.

Very few cars on the Czechslovak side, while many buses and trucks slows us down quite a bit. Almost all cars are withre FIAT 124 (Soviet made Lada) or Skoda. The road to Brno and beyond is dotted with hundreds of small monuments to Communism and red banners hailing socialism. One such banners reads: "Our union with Russia is a guarantee of peace". Small red stars are ubiquitous, even on lamp posts, street signs, everywhere.

The Iron Curtain at the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia