Final Word from Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Which Velvet Revolution does Czech PM Andrej Babiš want the European Union to help bring about in Belarus? The one ex-Czech PM Petr Pithart called in mid-Jan. 1990, and again on Czech TV in Nov. 2014, a "negotiated transfer of power"? "People can call that event in Nov. 1989 what they want," he said, "but I don't think it was a revolution." The old regime collapsed by itself, he explained. Or does Babiš want to help bring about a Velvet Revolution in Belarus of the kind written about by musician Michael Kocáb in his 2019 book "Vabank" (Going for Broke)? Kocáb argued that the "death" of the student Martin Šmíd was probably a KGB operation, with only a few of the most reliable Czechoslovak officials allowed to know about it and to participate. No, Babiš presumably wants the official version of events to repeat themselves. To borrow from the New York Times on Nov. 8, 1989, the rigged elections in Belarus have "galvanized" the nation (as Šmíd's "death" did here), and now it is only a matter of keeping pressure on Alexander Lukashenko until he walks away and the secret police and Moscow watch idly by. [ Czech Republic StB prime minister Senate president Soviet Union Russia ]

Glossary of difficult words

to go for broke - to risk everything in hope of having great success;

to galvanize - to shock or excite (someone) into taking action;

to watch/stand/sit idly by - to see something bad happen without trying to prevent it.

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