on Soviet Reactions to the Events in the ČSSR, February 28,1968
Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 07/15; Vondrová" & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 52–54.
Czechoslovak television journalist, O. Výborný, compiled this report two months after Dubček's
election. His survey indicates that officials and ordinary citizens in the Soviet Union divided their
assessments of Czechoslovakia between two distinct perspectives. One important group viewed everything
in a negative light, arguing that the new leaders in Prague were moving away from socialism, endangering
relations with the Soviet Union, and giving in to bourgeois nationalist pressures. A second, and very
different, group perceived the reforms in Czechoslovakia with great excitement and relief, hoping that the
events would pave the way for similar changes in the Soviet Union. They were particularly intrigued by
the latitude given for free expression in Czechoslovakia. Those holding this opinion acknowledged that a
certain degree of caution was necessary to avoid giving the hard-line elements in Moscow a pretext for
cracking down. But they also believed that Czechoslovakia's embrace of its "own road to socialism "need
not attenuate relations with the Soviet Union.
Výborný also evaluates the problems of Czechoslovak journalists reporting from the Soviet Union,
commenting that "a great deal of skill and tact is needed to tell our people about the problems encountered
by the USSR while not offending the Soviet authorities." The Výborný report was delivered to Dubcek on
March 4 by CzTV Director Jiří Pelikán.
The response in the USSR can be divided into two categories:
1. highly negative
2. highly positive
In between the two is a large section (a third undifferentiated group) of those who, because of a total lack of information or covert reports by Western radio stations, are unable to find their bearings in the present situation and thus cannot characterize events in our country correctly. It can be said that their assessment of what is going on in our country depends on the extent of their knowledge.
Negative assessments are not confined to a specific group. One comes across them in the highest places as well as among ordinary people. Those who hold this view have been frightened by the developments in our country. They disagree with the results of our plenum and are worried about future developments. They compare our situation with the Yugoslav road, and regard it as revisionist and dangerous. They are afraid that just as in Yugoslavia, our party will become no more than a political education center and will not be the leading force in the state. They allege that Czechoslovak policy is becoming nationalist; they believe we are exaggerating our attempt to set out on our "own road to socialism." Instead, they point to the USSR, which consistently sticks to positions of internationalism.
They furthermore regard our new road as concealed criticism of the old road—the road pursued by the USSR—and fear that we will deviate from this path. They criticize us for our faltering struggle against petty bourgeois tendencies, and they maintain that the voices of the latter have been particularly conspicuous in recent events. Some point to the nationalist factor; they interpret the plenary sessions as attempts by the Slovaks to achieve a political and economic settlement. They are concerned lest these tendencies be taken up in the USSR as well. They emphasize their own problems with nationalist tendencies: for example, in the Transcaucasian and Baltic republics and in Ukraine.
These adverse assessments of our plenum account for the attitude of certain comrades toward their own economic reform. They do not want to hurry its implementation, and they point to the
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Publication information: Book title: The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader. Contributors: JaromÍr NavrÁtil - Editor. Publisher: Central European University Press. Place of publication: Budapest. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 55.
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