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The Revolutions Of 1989i
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November 05, 2009
On the 20th anniversary of the dramatic fall of communism across Eastern Europe, RFE/RL interviewed some of the key players -- former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Czech President Vaclav Havel -- for a look back at the revolutions of 1989.

The Revolutions Of 1989

On the 20th anniversary of the dramatic fall of communism across Eastern Europe, RFE/RL interviewed some of the key players -- former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Czech President Vaclav Havel -- for a look back at the revolutions of 1989.

MORE: Blood And Velvet In Eastern Europe's Season Of Change

Features & Commentary

Video Czechs Remember With Humor, Music, March

There were outsized symbols, "riot officers" juggling truncheons, and thousands of marchers in downtown Prague. All to show those too young to remember communist rule that some things they take for granted were once in short supply.

Video Vaclav Havel: Velvet Revolutionary

1989 was the year in which Vaclav Havel went from jailed dissident to revolutionary leader to president. Twenty years on, we profile the leading figure of then-Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.

Timothy Garton Ash: 'Democracy Still Under Threat'

In 1989, British writer and Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash reported on the wave of democratic revolutions that swept Europe. On the eve of celebrations marking Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, he spoke to RFE/RL about the legacy of the events he witnessed 20 years ago.

Photogallery For One Czech Family, Gains But Also Disillusionment

As part of RFE/RL's series on the revolutions of 1989 that toppled communism in Central and Eastern Europe, RFE/RL visits one Czech family to hear how they remember 1989 -- and how they feel today.

European Intellectuals Warn Of Democracy Crisis

Public cynicism and corruption in politics are threatening democracy in Europe. That's according to a group of writers and scholars taking part in a conference today marking the 20th anniversary of the democratic revolutions that swept Central and Eastern Europe in 1989.

'Life Not Hell Anymore'

Adam Michnik, the editor in chief of Poland's "Gazeta Wyborcza" and a leading member of the Polish democratic opposition from 1968 to 1989, was in Prague this week to attend a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. He spoke to Irina Lagunina of RFE/RL's Russian Service about Russia, the West, and the post-Soviet letdown felt in the former Eastern bloc countries.

Before The Autumn Revolutions, The Moscow Spring

Before the autumn revolutions in Eastern Europe, there was the Moscow Spring in the Soviet Union. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policies hit their high-water mark, as the USSR held its first competitive elections, press freedom flourished, and civil society awakened.

When The Wall Fell, Asia Rose

The 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall helped transform global geopolitics by triggering the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. But it also set in motion Asia’s dramatic economic rise -- the speed and scale of which have no parallel in world history.

Bulgaria's 'Palace Revolution'

On November 10, 1989, one day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Todor Zhivkov, Bulgaria's longtime communist dictator, stepped down amid a "revolution" staged by the reformist wing of the Communist Party. Journalist Ekaterina Boncheva looks back at her memories of that day.

Video Living In East Germany's 'Restricted Zone'

Nowhere was the fall of the Berlin Wall celebrated more enthusiastically than in East Germany's "restricted zone," a high-security area that ran the length of the East-West border. Residents of the zone lived with harsh travel bans and nightly curfews for more than 40 years.

RFE And ‘The Curtain Of Silence’

Before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, Radio Free Europe provided listeners with comprehensive information and coverage about the changes sweeping Eastern Europe. It was partly thanks to RFE that the communist regimes were unable to keep the various protests isolated from one another or to restrict the circulation of ideas.

Video Blood And Velvet

Some were peaceful and some were violent. Some were popular revolts and some were orchestrated within the Communist Party leadership. The revolutions of 1989 cast aside Europe's Cold War dictators, paving the way for democracy and the free-market reforms of the 1990s.

'At Moment Of Crisis, No One Was Home'

As a "Newsweek" bureau chief, Michael Meyer was a professional observer of the revolutionary wave that swept across Central and Eastern Europe in 1989. He recalls some of the milestone moments of the 1989 revolutions.

The Wall In The Head

Physically, little today is left of the Berlin Wall, the potent symbol of Germany's Cold War division. But the psychological barrier between East and West still runs deep two decades after the wall's destruction.

Twenty Years Later, And The Communists Are Still With Us

In November 1989, we were given a chance, and we are doing relatively well. We are part of the broader world. Our children are growing up in a sort of democracy. They can travel and study abroad. They speak many languages and so hold the keys to open other worlds. Nonetheless, all is not right.

Survey Finds Generational Split In View Of Reforms

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people in countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain have mixed feelings about the changes democracy and capitalism have brought to their lives. A new survey finds general satisfaction but also disappointment.


Video Czechs Commemorate The 1989 Velvet Revolution

Thousands of people marched through the center of Prague on November 17, retracing the steps of the 1989 student march that kicked off Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.

Photo Gallery

Photogallery When The Wall Went Up: Berlin 1961

RFE/RL archival photos of the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.


Video Mikhail Gorbachev On 1989

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev spoke with RFE/RL Moscow correspondent Lyudmila Telen about his role in the disintegration of the Soviet bloc in 1989 and whether today he feels he made mistakes.