Silent Protest

On August 25, 1968, four days after soviet tanks rolled into Prague to put an end to eight months of political liberalisation and mass protests, eight people came to Red Square holding signs saying: “Long live free and independent Czechoslovakia”, "We are losing our best friends”, "Shame to the occupiers” and “For your freedom and ours”.

They sat peacefully at the Place of Proclamation to avoid being accused violating public order. Nevertheless, all of them were arrested by KGB agents within 10 minutes. Later, one of protesters was released because she said she was there by accident. Therefore it went down in history as “Demonstration of the Seven."

The remaining seven protestors were sent to mental hospitals, prisons or into exile. A punitive psychiatric diagnosis conveniently served the state, allowing authorities to avoid having "political prisoners" or giving dissidents a public platform by standing trial.

The protesters all knew that they would be prosecuted, despite the peaceful nature of their demonstration. They knew there was no space for political change, but protested for moral reasons; for them, inaction was untenable. After the “Demonstration of the Seven”, the Prague newspaper Literární listy wrote: “Seven people in Red Square are at least seven reasons why we will never be able to hate Russians again”.

I know that what I do bears no comparison to those eight brave men and women, but people often tell me that my posts change how they think about Russians, and for me that's important. With new laws suppressing dissent I might face some consequences too, but until then I want my voice to be heard. And I hope I give people some reasons not to hate Russians.