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Posts tagged ‘slovakia’


22 November 2012

In Bratislava

Peter Pomerantsev

‘It’s taken twenty years but suddenly I’m a hero,’ says Martin Šimečka, one of the Slovak dissident writers of the 1980s. ‘After the liberation no one wanted to talk openly about the Communist period. Dissidents weren’t heroes but reminders of people’s own conformism – but now there’s a young generation who want to stand up to the state, and they turn to me as a role model.’ I was in Bratislava for the Central European Forum: an event held annually around 17 November, the anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The Forum brought together the old generation of Eastern European dissidents with participants and observers of new protest movements: a member of the Spanish indignados talked about utopia in a euphoric rush; there were Hungarian anti-Orbán activists, Occupy, Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei specialists. ‘The new generation here are hopeless – they wanted to protest austerity measures in Slovakia but couldn’t achieve anything,’ according to Zuzana Szatmáry, a Slovak poet and essayist who worked in a factory for 20 years. ‘I enjoyed the factory, I learnt how to get tangible results. If you want change then you have to adapt protest to the specific state you’re battling.’