Photographer Dana Kyndrová documented the departure of Soviet soldiers from Czechoslovakia in 1990 and 1991. She visited the Soviet barracks together with the so-called joint parliamentary commission. Her knowledge of Russian and the fact that, as a woman, she did not make the soldiers feel threatened, enabled her to take pictures up close and personally. In 2015, she returned to the Soviet troop sites, and after 25 years, she again photographed in Milovice and in Ralsko near Mimoň, where the Soviets built a huge runway at Hradčany airport in the 1980s.

She started taking photographs at lyceum. In 1973, she started documenting communist demonstrations. “The entire totalitarian system was concentrated there, and people grumbled against it, but they went to official events and thus formally supported the regime. In that farce I saw the essence of the regime’s schizophrenia. I was fascinated by how people let themselves be manipulated, and it seemed to me to be typical of the period of normalization.” At the end of the 1970s, she became involved in a project by the Academy of Performing Arts students to capture the disappearing Žižkov. In the late 1980s, she took her camera to other rallies, this time anti-communist ones.

“November was a good happening, but most important for me was the departure of the Soviet troops,” says Dana Kyndrová.

In her photographic work, she moved from the theme of the withdrawal of the occupying armies to a broader reflection on the Soviet presence in Czechoslovakia in the 20th century. The result is the publication 1945 Liberation… 1968 Occupation: Soviet Troops in Czechoslovakia. In 2008, she presented her exhibition Liberation, Occupation, Departure at Mánes Gallery in Prague.


In the 1980s, communist regimes were collapsing economically and socially. Falling behind the free world could no longer be disguised, and citizens invoked their rights. Rumors of change were coming from the Soviet Union in the era of Mikhail Gorbachev. Our country had been ruled for a second decade by the same set of normalization apparatchiks, who until then had devotedly listened to their comrades from Moscow, but did not want to hear about so-called perestroika – reconstruction.

When the totalitarian regime in our country began to collapse in November and December 1989 under the enormous onslaught of civil unrest, almost 80,000 Soviet soldiers, on whose threat the local regime relied, remained in the barracks – they were ordered not to intervene. In February 1990, the new president, Václav Havel, arrived in Moscow for an official visit. The Soviets apologized for the occupation in August 1968, and the foreign ministers concluded an agreement on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia. The negotiations were attended by the MP and musician Michael Kocáb. On 24 June 1991, to celebrate the event, he organized a concert with his band Pražský výběr in Prague’s Sport Hall, with the world-famous rocker Frank Zappa as a guest, and the whole show ended with the symbolic departure of a dummy of a Soviet soldier in a helicopter. Three days later, the real “last Soviet soldier,” Eduard Arkadyevich Vorobyov, the commander of the Central Group, left our country. In total, 73,500 Soviet soldiers, 39,000 of their family members, 1,220 tanks, 2,500 infantry combat vehicles, 105 aircraft, 175 helicopters and 95,000 tons of ammunition left Czechoslovakia.