The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 22: Cable from Czechoslovak Ambassador Oldřich
Pavlovský on a Conversation with Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister
Il'ichev, April 17,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, K—Archiv MZV, Dispatches Received, No. 3375/1968;
Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 145–146.

The Czechoslovak ambassador in Moscow, Oldřich Pavlovský, transmitted this cable shortly before he
was recalled to become the minister of domestic trade in the new Czechoslovak government. The cable
recounts a conversation with the Soviet deputy foreign minister for East European and African affairs,
Leonid F. Il'ichev, during which he conveys alarm at developments in Czechoslovakia motivated by
"anti-Sovietism "and "aimed at disrupting our alliance." Ambassador Pavlovský reports that he assured
Il'ichev that "our relations were not jeopardized;" but the cable recommends that the Czechoslovak
government move as rapidly as possible to shore up Czechoslovakia's fraternal alliance with the Soviet
Union.

Files in the former CPSU archives in Moscow indicate that Pavlovský, and his replacement, Vladimir
Koucký, were hostile to the Prague Spring and often fed information to Soviet authorities that heightened
their concerns about the reform movement.

… Il'ichev got very upset when we spoke about developments in our country. He spoke with tears in his eyes. Since there are sincere and trustworthy relations between us he stated his open concern about future developments. To my assurances that our relations were not jeopardized and that we would never permit them to be undermined, pointing to speeches by Cde. Dubček and the other representatives as well as to the outcomes of district conferences and public meetings, etc., he said it would be good if these speeches and events were not disrupted by phenomena that seriously worried him about where everything was headed (attacks on communists, now even in villages, as well as the incomprehensible and inhuman treatment of party officials, leading secretaries, and secretaries of district committees who were not elected, etc.). He argued that there are internal forces not willing to respect the efforts and aims of the party, and that their political arsenal even included anti-Sovietism with the aim of disrupting our alliance. The concerns he expressed, he said quite openly, were not his view alone. All the comrades in the leadership were of the same opinion. I myself would like to add that this kind of concern is noticeable among all the people we meet. Speaking about the degree of information available to the Soviet public, he said (clearly as his own opinion in connection with my earlier conversation with Gromov) that they are often criticized by their own people for the paucity of available information. Finally, since providing information may be construed as approval of the course of events, they are compelled to provide information to the public precisely in this light.4 I believe it would be useful to take well-considered, active steps, without waiting any further, in order to show our determination, for propaganda and practical purposes, not only to maintain but reinforce our concept of alliance with the Soviet Union, both for domestic and for international political reasons.

4 The very same point is raised in Document No. 11 above, where a Czechoslovak television correspondent reports
on Moscow's obsessive desire to control the dissemination of news.

-101-

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