Tuesday, August 24, 2004

POLITICS: Prague Spring leader Ota Sik dies in Switzerland

Prague, Czech Republic, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Ota Sik, one of the leading figures in Czechoslovakia's ill fated reformist government of 1968, has died, the Czech news agency CTK reported Tuesday. He was 84.

CTK said Sik died in Switzerland late Sunday, 36 years and one day after Soviet tanks invaded Czechoslovakia to bring to an end to reformist Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek's hopes of building "socialism with a human face."

Sik was the inspiration behind Dubcek's economic reform plans, which envisaged the introduction of market mechanisms. He was subject to a campaign of vilification by the Soviet Union after the invasion once described as a "repugnant" counter-revolutionary.

Sik went into exile in Switzerland and was stripped of his Czechoslovak citizenship.


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