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Czechoslovakia

soviet regime war europe

Czechoslovakia, former nation in central Europe, consisting of the present Czech Republic and Slovakia. With the disintegration of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I, the Czechs and Slovaks proclaimed the independent republic of Czechoslovakia (1918), which developed as a Western-style democracy. Seized by Nazi Germany (1938–39), Czechoslovakia came under Russian domination after World War II, and a communist regime took power. In 1968–69 an attempt by the Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek to liberalize the country was crushed by invading Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops. Dubcek and other moderates were purged and the staunchly pro-Soviet Gustáv Husák put in control. In 1989 the pro-Soviet regime collapsed during the widespread upheavals in Eastern Europe. In the first free elections since 1948, the former dissident playwright Vaclav Havel became president. The new government embarked on a program of democratization and the introduction of a free-market economy. Under pressure of Slovak political leaders, the Czech and Slovak federation was dissolved, and the republics became independent in 1993.

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