Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Adamec, Ladislav (1926–)

Czech politician and premier. Born on 10 September 1926 in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, Czechoslovakia, to a peasant family, Ladislav Adamec joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPCz) in 1946 and during the 1950s and 1960s held various economic and political posts in Moravia. In 1966 he was elected to the Central Committee of the CPCz.

In January 1969, Adamec became deputy premier and later premier of the Czech regional government. In March 1987 he joined the presidium of the Central Committee of the CPCz. The CPCz then appointed him premier of Czechoslovakia on 12 October 1988 because the party feared that the sitting premier, Lubomír Štrougal, would introduce Gorbachev-style reforms too quickly. Adamec was on record as having favored more gradual change in Czechoslovakia.

On 17 November 1989, however, Czech police ruthlessly beat student demonstrators in Prague for demanding free elections and democracy. This police brutality spurred further mass prodemocracy demonstrations throughout the country. On 21 November 1989, rather than risk bloodshed and knowing that he lacked Moscow's support for a crackdown, Adamec entered into negotiations with the political opposition, Civic Forum. He agreed to a power-sharing arrangement with noncommunists to commence by the end of the month. However, Adamec's plans for a new government with a communist majority ignited additional protests, finally forcing him to resign on 7 December 1989.

On 20 December 1989 an emergency session of the CPCz elected Adamec as the party's general secretary, a post he occupied until September 1990. In June 1990 he was elected as a communist deputy to the Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia in the first free elections in Czechoslovakia. He served in this post until 1992, when he retired from public life.

Gregory C. Ference


Further Reading
Sayer, Derek. The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.
 

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