The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 135: The Soviet Politburo's Assessment of the Lessons
of Operation "Danube" and the Tasks Ahead, November 16,1968

Source: TsKhSD, F. 5 "OP," Op. 6, D. 776, LI. 128–144.

At Brezhnev's instruction, this document was prepared three months after the invasion. It is considered
an authoritative statement of the Soviet leadership's views on the invasion itself and the initial difficulties
in accomplishing the Kremlin's goals in Czechoslovakia.

The assessment acknowledges that the political side of Operation "Danube" had been "extremely
unsatisfactory." The authors attribute the surge of popular opposition to the invasion to "our failure to
carry out propaganda "underscoring the limits of Moscow's understanding of the widespread popularity
of the Prague Spring. It does reflect, however, the Soviet leaders' awareness of the "difficult" and
"protracted" process of reestablishing an orthodox pro-Soviet regime. Recommendations include "full-
scale purges" in the CPCz leadership and in the ČSSR Interior Ministry and an effort to "topple Dubček
and put an end to him as a viable political figure."

The report criticizes Soviet covert activities in Czechoslovakia in 1968, especially the KGB's failure to
carry out more extensive penetration of the "counterrevolutionary underground." Policy recommenda-
tions at the end of the document include the suggestion that the Soviet Union "exploit the presence of "its"
troops in Czechoslovakia" to "establish 10–12 powerful, clandestine intelligence centers at key points
around the country." In addition, the authors criticize "the current "public relations" line of non-inter-
ference "—as stated in the Brezhnev doctrine among other statements by Soviet leadersnoting that "the
dispatch of troops is the most extreme act of interference there can possibly be in the internal affairs of a
state." In contrast to propaganda claims that "our troops will not interfere in the internal affairs of
Czechoslovakia, "the authors recommend "the most decisive interference in the affairs of Czechoslovakia
and the exertion of pressure through all channels."

(See also Documents Nos. 109, 126, 128.)

SPECIAL DOSSIER

For oral presentation

STRICTLY SECRET ONLY COPY

CPSU CC

3349

16 Nov. 1968

Must be returned to the CPSU CC General Department

Some Remarks Concerning Preparations for the Military-Political Action of 21 August 1968111

The decision by the CPSU Central Committee and the Soviet government to send allied forces into Czechoslovakia was wise, courageous, and timely. All recent events have shown that this step was the only way to prevent the restoration of capitalism in that country.

At the current stage of historical development, world reactionary forces are placing their main emphasis on the struggle against the socialist states, on the "peaceful" demolition of those states from inside. For this reason, the Soviet Armed Forces, in faithfully carrying out their interna

111 The actual authorship of this document remains unclear. Archival annotations indicate that the final recipient of
the report was Brezhnev himself.

-547-

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