The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 39: Letter from Leonid Brezhnev to Alexander Dubček
Proposing Another Bilateral Meeting, June 11,1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 07/15, Zahr. kor. c. 817; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1,
pp. 240–241.

This letter was given to Dubček by the Soviet ambassador in Prague, Stepan Chervonenko, on the
morning of June 12, 1968a day before Dubček left on a state visit to Hungary to sign a new bilateral
treaty of friendship and cooperation. In it, Brezhnev expresses deep concern about the growth of
"anti-socialist" and "counterrevolutionary" forces in Czechoslovakia, and proposes that the CPSU and
CPCz convene another top-level bilateral meeting within a few days, preferably on June 15–16.

A handwritten note by Dubček on the letter indicates that after he conferred with Černík and Bil'ak, he
"announced that at the present time I am too busy "to take part in such talks, and that "until the "regional
and city" party conferences are over it will be impossible "to schedule a meeting. The conferences were
selecting delegates for the upcoming CPCz congress from all over Czechoslovakia, and they were not due
to be completed until the first half of July. This meant that sometime in mid-July was the earliest possible
date for a Soviet-Czechoslovak meeting, a month later than Brezhnev had proposed. The note shows that
Dubček "informed Cde. Chervonenko" of his decision and that Chervonenko "voiced his willingness" to
transmit it back to Moscow.

With Dubček's rejection of the invitation Brezhnev became far more suspicious and mistrustful of the
CPCz leader. Dubček's unwillingness to arrange a new bilateral meeting in June would later be cited by
his domestic opponents and by Soviet officials after the invasion as evidence of his "irresponsible"
behavior. They charged that he had violated the normal "comradely" procedures when he considered
the invitation. Although Dubček consulted with Černík and Bil'ak, he did not present the letter to the full
CPCz CC Presidium, and could not have done so until after he returned from Hungary.

"not dated"

To Esteemed Alexander Stepanovich!

Thank you for the information about the most recent plenum of the CPCz CC and about the situation in the state and the party, which we obtained via Cde. Chervonenko. We were satisfied upon receiving your news about the measures designed to activate the internal life of the party and to entrench the leading role of the party in socialist construction. At the same time we understand your worries and concerns about the attacks by anti-socialist forces against the party. As you know, we, too, are closely following the course of events in Czechoslovakia. We share your worries, and in a fraternal spirit we support you and your comrades in the fight you are waging for the defense and further development of socialist gains in Czechoslovakia and for the consolidation of the CPCz and its leading role. It has now become clear that your fight to achieve those goals is taking place against a backdrop of overt and growing pressure from anti-socialist forces.

Now, after the May plenum of the CPCz CC, you have entered an especially difficult period—a period in which preparations will be made for the extraordinary party congress. We well understand the great importance of the upcoming congress for the life of the party and the country. The preparations for the congress, as can now be seen, will be made at a time when your opponents have begun stepping up their attacks against the healthy forces in the communist party and its leadership, and have been perpetrating a campaign of intimidation, lies, and provocation; in this way, under the guise of waging a struggle against "conservatives," they will "shoot down" all the honest and loyal communists. The line faithful to Marxism-Leninism, to the cause of socialism, to internationalist duty, to the world communist movement, and to the Warsaw Pact, which, as was recently proclaimed, has been engaged in a sharp class struggle against bourgeois

-158-

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