The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 85: Letter from Leonid Brezhnev to Alexander
Dubček, and Dubček's Notes, Regarding the CPCz's Purported Failure
to Carry Out Pledges Made at Čierna and Bratislava, August 16,1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 07/15, Zahr. kor. No. 822; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2,
pp. 187–189.

This is the last of the six personal letters Brezhnev wrote to Dubček during the 1968 crisis. A brief cover
page to Ambassador Stepan Chervonenko, marked top secret, states: "Prague, Soviet ambassador. Visit
Cde. Dubček and tell him that Cde. Brezhnev asked that the following be presented to him." When he
received the letter, Dubček scribbled a series of notes on the front page and on an attached notecard.

Formal and reproachful in tone, Brezhnev's letter reiterates the complaints expressed during his phone
calls on August 9, and 13. In closing, Brezhnev emphasized that he was hoping for a swift reply from
Dubček as well as concrete measures to implement the Čierna and Bratislava accords.

Although Dubček took sharp issue with Brezhnev's charge that the situation had "deteriorated into
counterrevolution," his handwritten notes on the letter indicate that the CPCz Presidium might eventually
adopt certain of the measures demanded by the CPSU leadership. The notes support later assertions by
Dubček that Soviet complaints about personnel, reformist groups and control of the media would have
been addressed if the invasion had not occurred.

Esteemed Alexander Stepanovich,50

After the long telephone conversation with you on 13 August I am compelled once again to return to the subject we discussed51.I am doing this because of certain points in that conversation which I have no right or reason to ignore.

Above all, I wish to stress the seriousness and gravity of our talks with you concerning the results of the meetings between the CPSU CC Politburo and the CPCz CC Presidium when all members were present and also when just certain representatives from the CPSU CC Politburo and the CPCz CC Presidium got together. These results were of great significance for our parties, for our states, and for the entire socialist camp.

All of us, as representatives of the fraternal parties that met in Bratislava, attach enormous importance to these talks and to the decisions and commitments that were approved. It seems that, without question, the main thing now is to fulfill the programmatic clauses of the document adopted in Bratislava and also to take practical measures to fulfill the agreements reached in Čierna nad Tisou. The latter agreements include those adopted at the plenary session of the CPCz CC Presidium and the CPSU CC Politburo, as well as at the talks involving just four representatives per side from the CPSU CC Politburo and the CPCz CC Presidium.52

However, the course of events shows that the mass media have begun describing the results of the talks from right-wing positions and are continuing their anti-Soviet, anti-socialist attacks.

50 This letter is undated, but the date of August 16 is cited in the collective letter that the CPSU Politburo sent to
Dubček the following day, and in secret materials prepared for the plenum of the CPCz Central Committee in September
1969 (ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 01, Sv. 210, A.j. 131), where Brezhnev's letter was reproduced on pages 85 to 87. The text
of the letter was not made public until 14 May 1990, when it was published in Rudé právo ("Co psal Brežněv Dubčekovi:
Hovoří dosud neuveřejněné dokumenty," pp. 1–2).

51 See Document No. 81.

52 The implication of this statement (and of a similar statement below) is that agreements were reached during the
small, four-on-four negotiations at the end of the Čiema meeting that were not discussed in front of the full delegations.
This seems plausible in light of Dubček's handwritten notes on the letter (see below) and his speech at the September
1969 plenum of the CPCz Central Committee.

-366-

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