Jozef Lenart, the former Czechoslovak prime minister who supported the Soviet occupation in 1968, died on Feb. 11 after undergoing heart surgery. He was 80.
Lenart served as prime minister of Czechoslovakia from 1963 to 1968, and headed the Slovak Communist Party until the regime collapsed in 1988. A year later, he and ex-Communist Party boss Milos Jakes were brought up on charges of high treason for attending a meeting at the Soviet Embassy in Prague on the day after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion that squelched a popular anti-communism uprising. Known as the Prague Spring, the incident involved Soviet tanks rolling through the city’s streets. About 100 Czechs were killed.
Prosecutors also claimed the two high-ranking party apparatchiks attempted to establish a legal basis for the invasion by discussing the creation of a new “workers’ and farmers'” government. Though the pro-invasion government never took shape, it successfully undermined then-President Alexander Dubcek’s administration.
Lenart acquired Czech citizenship after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. He was acquitted in 2002 of all charges, on the basis of insufficient evidence.