John Bok: Eternal rebel who was Havel’s handyman then security chief

Photo: Ian Willoughby, Radio Prague International

Communist-era dissident John Bok has some great stories to tell. His parents met in the UK during the war and his English grandmother joined them in Prague after the conflict ended. Indeed Bok’s first language was English and though his speech is idiosyncratic he still has a noticeable northern English accent. Like his parents, he fell foul of the Communists, especially when he signed Charter 77. In the 1980s John Bok served as Václav Havel’s odd-job man before heading his security team in the immediate aftermath of the revolution. However – perhaps in part due to his life-long rebellious spirit – he soon found himself frozen out of the circle around the democracy leader and was not invited to his inauguration as president in late December 1989. I spoke to John Bok, who is today 77, at our studios in Prague’s Vinohrady.

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Author: Ian Willoughby