Czechs and Russians: A love-hate relationship

Czechs have always had a complicated relationship with Russians. At some points in history, they saw them as their Slavic brothers who could help them gain independence and freedom. But Czech hopes for a mutually respectful relationship were repeatedly dashed by the arrogance and aggression of Russian political leaderships.

In November 2018, Czech folk singer Jaromír Nohavica received an award in the Kremlin: the Medal of Pushkin from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The fact itself that he flew to Moscow to receive an award from the Russian president provoked a lot of criticism back home. Why? The Russians cannot be trusted. This was already understood by at least some of the Czech intelligentsia back in the 19th century. For example writer Karel Havlíček Borovský who spent quite a long time in Russia, concluded:

“I can testify that Russians do not treat other Slavs as brothers and that they are dishonest and selfish. I have more understanding for Hungarians who fight against us openly, rather than for the Russians, who approach with a Judas kiss, and then they want to put us in their pockets. Russian gentlemen first assure us that we are all Slavs so that they could later say that everything Slavic is Russian and must be subordinated to them.”

And in a similar vein speaks the co-founder of the Czech Facebook group “Russia is a world enemy” Otakar Brabec:

“I see present-day Russia mainly as the result of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Ever since Czechoslovakia was founded as an independent state in 1918, the Russian secret services did everything they could to undermine our state. It started with the so-called “Cheka”, which then morphed into NKVD and later KGB. And it is still going on with the present Russian services FSB and GRU. They have always been undertaking activities directed against the interests of our state and our citizens.”

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Author: Vít Pohanka