to Alexander Dubček, August 13,1968
Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 02/1; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 181–183.
The Soviet Politburo transmitted this brief message via the Soviet embassy in Prague on August 13; it
was given to Dubček the next day. The communiqué addressed a spate of recent articles in the Czechoslovak
press that were "unambiguously ami-socialist and anti-Soviet" in nature. The Politburo's intent was to
persuade Dubček to launch an immediate crackdown on the Czechoslovak press, and disavow General
Václav Prchlik who was the subject of a number of positive articles. The Politburo message demands to
know whether the Prague daily Mladá fronta is correct in asserting that "Prchlík still has the full confidence
of the CPCz CC Presidium."
Two days later, on August 15, the Czechoslovak Defense Ministry issued a statement of disapproval of
the comments Prchlík had made at his news conference on July 15.
(On Gen. Prchlík, see also Documents Nos. 54 and 57.)
On 13 August 1968 Cde. Chervonenko handed Cde. Dubček the following message:
We have several times drawn the attention of the CPCz leadership to a series of grave facts demonstrating that the Czechoslovak side is clearly violating the agreement concluded at Čierna nad Tisou, which required that all the mass media—the press, radio, and television—be placed under the supervision of the CPCz Central Committee and the government, and that all anti-socialist and anti-Soviet publications be suspended.
Over the past few days several press outlets have carried fresh materials that are unambiguously anti-Soviet and anti-socialist. These materials distort the nature of the talks between our parties and the meeting in Bratislava; they are part of an attempt that is being made to impair relations between the USSR and the ČSSR and to arouse the mistrust and animosity of the Czechoslovak people toward the fraternal socialist countries.
These are not merely a few articles but an organized campaign. An especially inflammatory role is being played by Literární listy, Mladá fronta. Reportér, and Práce, which stubbornly continue to publish slanderous fabrications about the Soviet Union and the other fraternal countries. These periodicals are the mouthpiece of the right-wing, anti-socialist forces. Issue number 24 (8 August) of Literární listy carried an article entitled "From Warsaw to Bratislava," in which—incredible as it may seem—the policy of the fraternal socialist countries is compared to Hitler's policy and the press of the fraternal socialist countries is equated with the Goebbels propaganda machine. The paper brazenly states that "the professional mentality of the propaganda machine has not changed, insofar as it takes advantage of its monopoly and thereby skews all information, thus creating a deliberate and well-conceived lack of information."
The paper describes journalists in the other socialist countries as "publicist lackeys" and shamelessly speaks of "the rising cohorts of scribes who are capable of anything and who, on instruction from their ideological chiefs, have opened fire … on 'the Czechoslovak counterrevolution'."
The article "Friendship and Politics," featured in the same issue of Literární listy, is permeated by the same polemical, anti-Soviet spirit. Following the example of the bourgeois press, it propagates various slanders and filthy insinuations directed against the objectives and policy of the Soviet Union. The paper states: "Soviet leaders evidently did not trust the ability and desire of the whole people in Czechoslovakia to sustain and advance socialism voluntarily and democratically, and probably believed the only guarantee of the alliance could come from certain individuals."