National Geographic : 1991 Mar
LIBEREC, CZECHOSLOVAKIA An admiring crowd hangs on every word of President Vaclav Havel. Unopposed, Havel won reelection last July to a two-year term, gaining 234 votes from the 300-member parliament. A play wright and former dissident, he takes pride in the nay votes proof, he says, of the democratic nature of his country's new poli tics. Havel's warm manner and upbeat refrain, "Let us rejoin Europe," have earned him vast reserves of goodwill, a supply he will desperately need as economic reforms and Slovak demands for greater autonomy test his nation. SOFIA, BULGARIA In an unorthodox gesture, a priest shows his support for stu dents striking for democratic change. The demonstrations forced President Pettir Mla denov, a reform-minded com munist, from office in early July. Mladenov had angered students by suggesting the use of tanks against earlier protests. Long held in check by the govern ment, the Orthodox Church now includes members who openly sing the praises of the country's fragile democracy.