The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 28: Stenographic Account of the Soviet-Czechoslovak
Summit Meeting in Moscow, May 4–5,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S 2; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 165–191.

This 74-page typed Russian transcript of the bilateral Soviet-Czechoslovak meeting in Moscow in early
May 1968 details Moscow's efforts to manage and negotiate the crisis. Brezhnev called for the meeting
just after Marshal Yakubovskii left Czechoslovakia in late April without Prague's consent to host joint
military exercises in May.

The minutes of the meeting record sharp Soviet criticisms of the Czechoslovak reforms and pronounced
disagreements between the Czechoslovak delegation, led by Dubček, and the Soviet authorities, led by
Brezhnev. Soviet negotiators expressed multiple concerns about events in Czechoslovakia: the Czecho-
slovak army and security forces were being weakened and subverted; the CPCz was being deprived of its
most loyal (i.e., pro-Soviet) cadres; West Germany and the United States were covertly undermining the
Czechoslovak regime; Czechoslovak foreign policy was becoming (or would soon become) openly
pro- Western; and the counterrevolutionary forces were, as Brezhnev put it, "raging in full force." Brezhnev
and his aides hinted that the Soviets would act decisively to "defend socialism" in Czechoslovakia if
Dubček did not meet their concerns.

Minutes of Talks with ČSSR Delegation, 4 May 19689

Representing the Czechoslovak side in the talks: Cdes. A. Dubček, O. Černík, J. Smrkovský, V. Bil'ak.

Representing the Soviet side: Cdes. L. I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin, N. V. Podgorny, K. F. Katushev, K. V. Rusakov.

"After Brezhnev welcomed the participants, Dubček explained the current situation in Czechoslovakia."

A. Dubček: In brief, after the April plenum the people's trust in the communist party increased. This is the most important thing for us; we regard it as our real source of strength. The changes carried out were entirely necessary. It was impossible to confine ourselves to less. Now it is essential that Cde. Novotný leave the Central Committee. The regional party conferences objected to the fact that the January plenary decisions are not being fulfilled systematically. We are accelerating work to prepare the party congress. Its exact date has not yet been decided. This will be done at the CC plenum in May. According to the statutes, the congress should be held in 1970, but we'll have to hold it earlier.

A. N. Kosygin: Will it be an extraordinary congress?

A. Dubček: It will be an extraordinary, pre-term one, but the main thing is not the interval at which the congress takes place. The important thing is the content of its work and what problems will be discussed. We will have to consider, among other things, several questions of a constitutional nature (that of the federation), the question of the party statutes, and other issues concerning the future work of the party. At present we are busy putting together a plan on how to prepare for the congress. We'll try to finish this work by the end of the year or in the spring of 1969. There are many questions that simply cannot be resolved without calling a congress.

9 In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government turned over this document to Czech
authorities, making it available for public evaluation for the first time.

-114-

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