1989

1989-2009: celebrations muted by the disappointments of the present

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What happened to the illusions that free market capitalism would bring democracy, social justice and equality to the societies of Eastern Europe? Mike Haynes reports

British tourists are commonplace in the former Soviet bloc today. Cheap flights take you to Prague or Budapest. You can spend a weekend in the Baltic states or even make it to Moscow and St Petersburg. The beer is cheap. For stag nights and last minute flings the prostitutes are numerous and cheap. It is easy to combine a visit to some of the finest sights with some of the worst. And many do. Out of sight, out of mind.

In Western Europe migrants from these countries are common. We meet them every day working in bars and hotels, on the farms and in the factories. Supermarkets in

1989-2009: the revolutions that brought down Stalinism

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Mass social movements swept across Eastern Europe 20 years ago, toppling repressive Stalinist regimes that had claimed to be socialist. Mark L Thomas introduces our coverage of the anniversary as he remembers the tumultuous events of 1989

As 1989 began, the one-party states that littered Eastern Europe seemed impregnable, as by and large they had done for the previous four and half decades. Yet by the end of the year, one after another, they had been swept away or were rapidly heading that way. By Christmas Day 1989, when the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was tried and executed followed a dramatic uprising (all beamed across the world on television), everything had changed utterly.

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