The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 43: "On the Dissemination of the CPSU CC's Periodic
Report on the Situation in Czechoslovakia and Certain Foreign Policy
Steps of the Romanian Leadership": A Memorandum on Efforts
to Provide CPSU Members with the Politburo's Latest Analysis
of the Crisis, June 1968 (Excerpts)

Source: TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 1, LI. 92–99.

Nikolai Petrovichev, deputy director of the CPSU CC Department for Party-Organizational Work,
prepared this June 24, 1968 top-secret memorandum on dissemination of the latest Politburo report, "On
the Situation in Czechoslovakia and on Certain Foreign Policy Steps of the Romanian Leadership." After
the Politburo issued its report on June 18, the text was promptly distributed to lower-level CPSU
organizations. Within three to four days, all senior party members had been apprised of the contents.
Leaders of the different party organizations sent cables back to Moscow confirming that they had fulfilled
the Politburo's instructions. Petrovichev, in turn, drew on these incoming cables when he wrote his
memorandum informing the Politburo that the "party aktiv unanimously approves of the work carried out
by the CPSU Central Committee in providing support to the healthy forces in the CPCz, which facilitates
their effort to rebuff the anti-socialist elements. This process has been completed successfully."

Petrovichev's memorandum illuminates an obscure aspect of Soviet policy-making in 1968the
implementation of key decisions. The document reveals that Soviet leaders relied on elaborate monitoring
and feedback mechanisms to ensure that their report would be handled exactly the way they wanted. All
the secretaries of the republic, regional, oblast, and local party committees were obliged to report back
to Moscow on the dissemination of the Politburo's analysis and the reaction they encountered. The report
also demonstrates how officials in the CPSU CC Department for Party-Organizational Work monitored
the performance of outlying party organizations and relayed this information to all the CPSU CC
secretaries, including Leonid Brezhnev.

17254

TOP SECRET

CCCPSU


On the Dissemination of the CPSU CC's Periodic Report on the Situation
in Czechoslovakia and Certain Foreign Policy Steps
of the Romanian Leadership

The CPSU CC's report on the situation in Czechoslovakia and on certain foreign policy steps of the Romanian leadership was received in localities on 19–20 June of this year.88 Within 3 to 4 days, all members of the CCs of the communist parties of the union republics, the regional party committees, the oblast party committees, the municipal party committees, and the district

88 Beginning in mid-March, the Politburo transmitted periodic analyses of the crisis to lower-level party organizations.
The issuance of these reports proved extremely useful for Brezhnev and his colleagues because it forced them to arrive
at a broad consensus at various stages of the crisis, despite their continued disagreements. The reports also provided a
convenient way for CPSU leaders to explain Soviet policy to other officials in the party hierarchy, especially those well
outside Moscow. By setting forth the "official view" of events in Czechoslovakia at regular intervals, the Politburo took
advantage of the CPSU's long-established practice of "democratic centralism." which strictly prohibited any dissent
from policies made at higher levels. Soviet leaders thereby obtained ample leeway to define the party's stance during
the 1968 crisis without unwanted interference from below.

-172-

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