The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 94: Message from the CPSU CC Politburo
to Members of the CPSU CC and Other Top Party Officials Regarding
the Decision to Intervene in Czechoslovakia, August 19,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S 9; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 210–211.

The Soviet Politburo transmitted this communique to all leading officials in the CPSU's Central
Committee apparatus and to the heads of republic, regional, and provincial party branches two days before
the invasion. The document contains a vehement justification of the decision to "provide fraternal military
assistance to the healthy forces in the CPCz," including a pledge that "the troops from our five countries
will not interfere in the domestic affairs of fraternal Czechoslovakia." Senior party workers are instructed
to use the same sorts of arguments when conducting "explanatory and mass political work among all
segments of the public" after August 21. The need for a stepped-up campaign of "mass political work" is
indicative of the unease that many Soviet leaders felt about the corrosive impact the invasion might have
on the "cohesion of the party and the people" and on the "moral and political unity of Soviet society. "

The number of officials who received the announcement was unusually largea total of643, including
350 from the CPSU Central Committee, 64 from the Central Auditing Commission, 75 from the union
republic CC Secretariats, and 154 from the provincial and territorial party committees. No evidence has
emerged that any of the recipients objected to the message, publicly or privately.

The message underscores the top-down character of Soviet decision-making. Although the Politburo
was nominally accountable to the Central Committee, it was the Politburo that made all key decisions
during the crisis and then informed other party organs.

TO: MEMBERS AND CANDIDATE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE CPSU

TO: MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL AUDITING COMMISSION OF THE CPSU

TO: SECRETARIES OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEES OF COMMUNIST PARTIES OF THE UNION REPUBLICS

TO: FIRST SECRETARIES OF PROVINCIAL (AND TERRITORIAL) PARTY COMMITTEES109

The CPSU CC Politburo has systematically informed party activists about the situation in Czechoslovakia and about the emergence there of counterrevolutionary events that have endangered the socialist achievements of the Czechoslovak working people and the fate of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

The CPSU CC Politburo, basing itself on the decisions of the April and July plenary sessions of the Central Committee, has used all possible political measures to influence the development of events in the ČSSR and to assist the healthy forces of the CPCz to sustain socialism and to prevent Czechoslovakia from moving into the imperialist camp.

In recent days events have assumed a most ominous character. The country was on the threshold of a counterrevolutionary coup.110 By relying on the overt and covert support of reactionary imperialist forces and by exploiting the levers they had seized to run society and the mass media, right-wing forces have attempted to force the party and government of Czechoslovakia to follow a pro-Western policy and return Czechoslovakia to a bourgeois republic. They did not receive the support of a majority in the CPCz CC Presidium, the National Assembly, or the government. Instead, a majority who wish to defend the cause of socialism and the cause of the working class, the peasantry, and the working intelligentsia, have appealed to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Polish People's Republic, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the

109 Provinces (oblasti) and territories (kraia) were administrative divisions in the USSR. Smaller divisions of this sort
included autonomous regions (avtonomnye okrugi). cities (goroda), and urban districts (raiony).

110 An apparent reference to the forthcoming 14th Party Congress.

-401-

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