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Czech Republic: Leader Of 1968 Prague Spring Dies

Prague, 15 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Zdenek Mlynar, one of the leading figures of Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring reform movement in 1968, died in a Vienna hospital this morning. He was 67.

Mlynar, a schoolmate of Mikhail Gorbachev at Lomonosov University in Moscow in the early 1950s, eventually became one of the main intellectual forces behind reform in the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1968. He authored the party's manifesto, the Action Program.

Following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, Mlynar and other Czechoslovak communist leaders were taken to Moscow, where they were forced to sign documents legitimizing the stay of Soviet troops on Czechoslovak territory.

Mlynar's "Nightfrost in Prague," a book published in 1969, is considered one of the best accounts of the Prague Spring events and the invasion.

Between 1969 and 1977, Mlynar worked in Prague's National Museum. He signed a human rights manifesto, Charter 77, in 1977 and later that year emigrated to Vienna, becoming the higest ranking Communist since Trotsky to settle in the West. He later taught political science in Austria and Germany. Ignored by the communist leadership in Czechoslovakia, he met Gorbachev during the perestroika period. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Mlynar became honorary chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia in the Czech Republic.