A Brief History of People Power

Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia 1989
Lubomire Kotek / AFP / Getty Images

The Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia, 1989
As the death knell sounded for a Soviet Union in terminal decline, protesters in countries across the old Soviet bloc — from Poland to Hungary, Romania to the Baltic states — rose up against the communist parties that had governed them for decades. The most spectacular and sudden revolution took place in Czechoslovakia. On Nov. 17, 1989, students gathered in Prague just a week after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They were met with a crackdown by police, but the act only catalyzed the inevitable. The days that followed saw protests of up to half a million in Prague and elsewhere, and on Nov. 28, Prague's communist leadership agreed to relinquish its monopoly on power. Democratic elections were held in June of the following year.

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