Obituary: Rita Klimova
Friday 07 January 1994
I FIRST met Rita Klimova in Prague in 1965 and we remained friends until her death, writes Professor Archie Brown. After the Soviet invasion in 1968 she came to Glasgow with her father and two children. She was offered a teaching post at the University, where I also taught, but, after several weeks of thought, chose to return to Prague, knowing the future would be uncertain and probably gloomy.
Rita herself could never be gloomy for long, although she suffered more setbacks in her private and public lives than anyone could be expected to bear with such fortitude. She was wonderful company. Field Marshal Montgomery judged people on the basis of whether they would make 'a good man to go into the jungle with'. Rita was an ideal person with whom to be followed by the secret police, as I had a number of occasions to find out in Prague during the Husak years. She could never take either them or their political masters entirely seriously. Nor did the fact that her apartment and telephone were bugged inhibit her from saying exactly what she thought of Gustav Husak and his colleagues.
Throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s Rita was forbidden to travel to the West. It was not until 1987 that she was allowed out and stayed with us in Oxford. By that time she was an increasingly active dissident. After another visit the following year she returned to Prague to emerge as 'the lady with the red flower' who acted as guide and translator for Western intellectuals taking part in a forum led by Havel. When Havel was arrested, Rita was briefly detained.
Probably as a result of that episode, the Communist authorities refused her permission to travel in the summer of 1989, but by the end of the year she was appointed ambassador to Washington. Last year she won new admirers in Britain when she lectured in Oxford.
For her many friends she leaves an imperishable memory of courage in adversity, generosity of spirit, sharp intelligence, wit and warm- heartedness. Talking to me in Prague in 1969 about her years as a young Communist she said: 'We helped to get the country into this mess. The least we could do was help get it out again.' Twenty years later, alongside her friend Havel, she achieved all that and more.
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Chief Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone has contracted the deadly disease himself
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...
£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...
£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...
£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...