The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview
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DOCUMENT No. 93: Cable from Ambassador Stepan Chervonenko to
the Kremlin on His Meeting with Alexander Dubček and Oldřich černík,
> August 19,1968

Source: AVPRF, F. 059, Op. 58, P. 124, D. 574, LI. 124–127.

Soviet Ambassador to Czechoslovakia Stepan Chervonenko transmitted this cable to Moscow on August
19, shortly after meeting Alexander Dubček for the last time before the invasion. Chervonenko requested
the meeting primarily in order to hand over the CPSU Politburo's final "letter of warning." The letter
originally was supposed to have been delivered to the CPCz leadership on the morning of the 18th but
Chervonenko obtained the Politburo's approval to wait until the evening of the 19th so that Dubcek would
pay less attention to its significance and there would be less risk of "sparking off premature actions by
the rightist forces." The ambassador's account of the meeting suggests that both Dubček and Černík
regarded the letter as nothing more than the latest in a long series of Soviet protests and complaints.

(See also Documents Nos. 88, 90.)

Dubček said that no obligations of any sort had been undertaken at Čierna, and that there was an exchange of views there, during which certain plans and intentions had been laid out, including personnel matters, which should have remained known only to those who had spoken in private with one another. Now the CPSU CC Politburo is asking him to inform the members of the CPCz CC Presidium about the letter that Cde. Brezhnev sent confidentially to him, Dubček, on 16 August. This means that it will be regarded by party activists and by the people as interference in internal affairs.

I responded that he, as a political leader, should not present the matter as "interference," since what is at issue is whether there will or will not be a struggle against the rightist danger as the main danger, that is, whether they will or will not fulfill the decisions of the May plenum of the CPCz CC, the agreement at Čierna, and the declaration signed at Bratislava. A struggle against the rightist danger requires concrete measures to be adopted against the purveyors and inspirers of the rightist course in the CPCz, and above all the rightist course in the CPCz leadership. I reminded him that he and others had several times linked Kriegel, Císař, and others with a second center and with the rightists. Consequently, the personnel side of things is an important part of the political line, since a political struggle against the rightists must be clear-cut and take a concrete form.

Dubček did not specify what sort of concrete steps and measures would be implemented in the struggle against rightist and anti-socialist forces. He said that they "in Moscow" do not trust him, and that no specific timeframe was set in Čierna for resolving any particular questions. At times he flared up and sputtered comments to the effect that "you want to restore Novotný or Novotný's methods."

Dubček said that in Moscow they do not understand that it is impossible to resolve problems that have been accumulating over a long period in just a week's time, and so forth.

I did not bother to argue any further because Dubček obviously had not made a realistic and concrete analysis of the situation in the ČSSR and did not reveal his plans and intentions. Černík was present, but he barely took part in the conversation. He was gloomy and only occasionally interjected remarks in a cold tone. Dubček said that on 20 August the letter would be considered by the CPCz CC Presidium and that an answer would be given later on.


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