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Prague Embassy cable, Czechoslovak Independents Establish New Organization and List Agenda of Demands

The established opposition reacted slowly to November 17; while students and actors began mobilizing on Saturday, it was Sunday before opposition leaders met to determine their next steps. That afternoon, independent activists created Civic Forum and drew up a list of four initial demands (see document 493). This U.S.

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Prague Embassy cable, American Woman's Account of November 17 Demonstration and the Death of a Czech Student

The experience of November 17 is difficult to recapture in all its intensity and chaos. But this testimony from an American eyewitness evokes the atmosphere. Although the story comes second-hand through this November 20 U.S. embassy cable, we can still sense the trauma of that night in the description of fleeing demonstrators forced through a police "gauntlet".

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Prague Embassy cable, Popular and Soviet Pressure for Reform Converge on the Jakes Leadership

Part of any U.S. ambassador's job involves evaluating the political situation at their post. When Ambassador Shirley Temple Black arrived in Prague in early autumn 1989, most American officials agreed that the conservative Czechoslovak leadership would be in power for a while. Only a few weeks later, Black radically revised this view, presenting her reasons in this November 20 cable.

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Prague Embassy cable, Demonstrations in Prague and Other Czechoslovak Cities November 20

November 17 set in motion a dramatic train of events in Czechoslovakia. But for the first few days their direction remained unclear. This U.S. embassy report on the situation through November 20 highlighted some of the unresolved issues. To begin with, the protests lacked a definite leader.

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Prague Embassy cable, Student Strike Situation Report

This November 21 U.S. embassy report demonstrates the influence of the independent student strike at the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. The students' power stemmed largely from their ability to organize quickly. On November 18, student leaders in Prague had announced an immediate university strike in addition to the general strike.

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Prague Embassy cable, November 21 Morning Demonstration At Wenceslas Square: Overheard Conversations

Just a week before the Velvet Revolution began, it was smarter to look for public opinion in a family kitchen rather than on a city sidewalk. People still monitored what they said outside their homes. By November 21, the squares in Prague were becoming open forums. This embassy report described the "word on the streets" overheard by an American official's spouse that day on Wenceslas Square.

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The Civic Forum's Exposition of its Position in Public Life with a Call for Nonviolence, Tolerance and Dialogue

Uncertainty pervaded the days after the November 17 crackdown as different groups struggled to gain control of events. The rumor that a student was killed during the demonstration exemplified the overall lack of reliable information.

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Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, "Information Regarding the Development of the Security Situation During the Period of the 17 November Anniversary"

Despite the growing pressure for change in the autumn of 1989, Czechoslovak officials did not automatically view the November 17 commemoration as a major security risk. Unlike the other politically-charged anniversaries that had increasingly become beacons for protest, this date did not ideologically threaten communism.

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Sofia Embassy cable, Bulgarian CP Politburo Member Lukanov Delivers 'Signal' on Bulgarian Developments and U.S.-Bulgarian Relations

The resignation of long-time communist leader Todor Zhivkov in November 1989 left the future of Bulgarian politics uncertain. The disgruntled communist elites who had usurped the aging leader would now attempt to reform the system without undermining the party. A few days after the coup one of the instigators, Andrej Lukanov, tried to convince the U.S.

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The Civic Forum's Position on the Negotiations of its Representatives with Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec

Civic Forum's original demands included "round-table" negotiations between itself and the government following the model used in Poland and Hungary. Unlike the party leadership in those countries, however, the Czechoslovak communists refused to open dialogue with the opposition until their hand was forced by the explosion of protest after November 17.

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