The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 76: Report by Soviet Ambassador Stepan Chervonenko
to the Kremlin on His Meeting with Alexander Dubček, August 7,1968

Source: AVPRF, F. 059, Op. 58, P. 124, D. 573, LI. 183–185.

Soviet Ambassador to Czechoslovakia Stepan Chervonenko recorded his August 7, 1968, meeting with
Alexander Dubček in this top-secret report to the Kremlin. Chervonenko requested the meeting on
instructions from the Soviet Politburo, and conveyed a number of "concerns": about the unofficial clubs
and political organizations, the "hostile "tone of the mass media, the delay in bifurcating the ČSSR Interior
Ministry, the "vindictive" campaign against the 99 workers from the Auto-Praha factory, and Dubček's
failure to replace certain key officials.

Chervonenko's conclusions that Dubček was oblivious to the "complexity of the situation," and "not
yet ready to embark on a consistent and decisive struggle" against "rightist and counterrevolutionary
forces" made a deep impression in Moscow. Soviet leaders promptly conveyed a copy of the report to the
East German leader, Walter Ulbricht, so that he could cover many of the same points when he met a few
days later top CPCz officials in Karlovy Vary. Some officials in Moscow welcomed the report as a
vindication of their hard-line views and a further reason to proceed quickly with military action; others
were disappointed that the CPCz leadership had refused to "close ranks with the healthy forces," whose
strength and appeal Chervonenko greatly overstates at the end of his report.

… I asked Cde. Dubček to let me know what had already been done since the meetings in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava, and also what he personally, as CPCz CC first secretary, and the CPCz CC Presidium as a whole intended to do in the near future—that is, before the CPCz congress—to launch a struggle against the rightist and anti-socialist forces. I said I wanted to communicate all this to the CPSU CC Politburo, which had expressed confidence in him, Dubček, and in Cde. Černík and which hopes that the mutually agreed conditions needed to overcome the difficulties that have arisen between our parties will be firmly and consistently carried out by the Czechoslovak leadership. With regard to this I added that if the Czechoslovak comrades honestly and wholeheartedly wage a struggle against the rightist and anti-socialist forces, they can count on support and assistance.from the CPSU and the Soviet Union.

I also emphasized that the fraternal parties that were represented at the Bratislava conference were avidly following and wanted to see what the CPCz leadership would do and what conclusions it had drawn from the Čierna negotiations and the Bratislava Declaration that it signed. They expected that the CPCz leadership would consistently abide by the provisions of the declaration, which specified the course to be followed in accordance with the internal interests of the country and the common goals of the socialist commonwealth. All those in the world communist movement and in the CPCz who realistically evaluated the situation were aware that the Čierna and Bratislava meetings had given the CPCz leadership ample leeway to act without losing face. Hence, they expected major, concrete steps and actions on the part of the CPCz leadership.

Dubček and Lenárt listened attentively and made notes of what was said. Then Dubček said that after the meeting in Čierna nad Tisou (he confirmed the profound and penetrating analysis of the situation in the ČSSR that had been offered by the Soviet leadership, particularly in the speeches of Brezhnev, Kosygin, Suslov, and other comrades) and the conference in Bratislava, the CPCz CC Presidium began to take certain measures. True, he, Duček, had become somewhat ill and had to stay in Bratislava after the conference until Tuesday, and thus he had not yet had the chance to think through and discuss things with his comrades. Even so, at the first session of the CPCz CC Presidium, which was held on 6 August, several concrete matters were already raised, although the presidium meeting as a whole was devoted to a review of the state of preparations for the 14th CPCz Congress.

-333-

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