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Last Czechoslovak communist leader Milous Jakes dies at 97

PRAGUE (AP) — Milous Jakes, the Communist Party leader in the former Czechoslovakia at the time of 1989's Velvet Revolution, has died. He was 97. The Communist Party confirmed his death late Tuesday without providing any further details. It was not immediately clear when he died.

Jakes was appointed the secretary general of the party in 1987. From the conservative wing of the party, Jakes opposed a brief period of liberal reforms in 1968 known as the Prague Spring, which was subsequently crushed on Aug. 20 of that year by troops from the Warsaw Pact.

Jakes was part of the hard-line regime that took over following the invasion. He had been general secretary of the party for only two years before the Velvet Revolution led by the late writer, Vaclav Havel, ended 40 years of communist rule.

He inadvertently gained notoriety in the run-up to the revolution when he described the communist party as “a fence post,” a symbol of its isolation in Czechoslovak society. His speech in July 1989 was subsequently leaked, prompting one of the main slogans of the hundreds of thousands of protesters that gathered in Prague and other cities later that year.

“We don’t want a fence post,” they shouted.

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