The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 101: Report by a Czechoslovak State Security (StB)
Official on the Arrest of Dubček and Other Members of the CPCz CC
Presidium, August 21,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, A, from the documents left by L. Hofman, chairman of the Defense
and Security Committee of the National Assembly in 1968.

Dubček and several other presidium officials were arrested in the early morning on August 2 J by Soviet
authorities at the first secretary's office in the CPCz Central Committee Headquarters. At about 4 A.M.,
a convoy of Soviet tanks and armored vehicles, headed by a Volga limousine from the Soviet embassy,
arrived at the CPCz CC building, and Soviet special-operations forces (also from Toman) sealed off the
premises and severed all phone links with the outside world. By 5:00 A.M. Soviet troops armed with
machineguns had entered Dubček's office and detained Dubček, Smrkovský, Kriegel, Josef Špaček,
Bohumil Šimon, Zdeněk Mlynář, Štefan Sádovský, Václav Slavík, and several other officials and aides.
After hours of being kept under "room arrest," KGB officials removed Dubček, Smrkovský, Kriegel, and
Spaček to another office. In the early afternoon they, along with Bohumil Šimon, were transported in
armored vehicles to Ruzyné airport where they were joined by Prime Minister Černik (who had been
arrested at 3 A.M. in the main government building by Soviet airborne commandos). From there the six
were flown out of Czechoslovakia to Poland and eventually to a KGB barracks near Uzhgorod in the
Carpathian Mountains, which effectively became their temporary prison.

This arrest report, compiled by a StB official for the Defense and Security Committee of the National
Assembly, provides a first-hand account by Soviet and Czech security forces on the capture of the
Czechoslovak leadership. Over and above a detailed description of the initial hours of the occupation, the
StB agent's observations reveal tension between Soviet army and KGB officers about the assignment to
arrest Dubček and his advisers. The report records that the colonel in charge of the army units demanded
to know "why are they sending us there" after his army units had "come all the way from Dresden." The
document also reveals that a special unit of Soviet KGB forces was given specific responsibility for tracking
down Čestmir Císař. Císař was eventually arrested but escaped as Soviet troops were transferring him to
the StB's Bartoloméjská Street prison on the morning of the 21st.

21 August 1968

… Between 8:00 and 8:30 A.M. a group of six people were selected on orders from Lt. Col. Ripl.124 Those orders were conveyed by Jaroslav Coufal.125 The six included Mráček, Beran, and Šimon from the 5th Section of the 2nd Department of the StB Supreme Staff, and Kokta, Jelínek, and Škapa from the 7th Section.126 The group was given the task of protecting the Soviet adviser at the counterintelligence unit, Mukhin, and another plainclothes Soviet security officer, who left for the Soviet embassy in separate cars. Their departure for the Soviet embassy was mentioned at the time, but the actual departure occurred only after a wait of about two hours. At the embassy a tank was already in place, along with a communications vehicle, the GDR ambassador's car, and several Bronevik-type armored vehicles. Soon afterwards, motorized formations were mobilized in a wide radius around the embassy.

Mukhin arrived at about 11:00 A.M. and divided out the duties: One StB official was to head the military convoy to the Central Board for Communications, another StB official was to go to the radio building, and other officials were assigned to the building of the CPCz Central Committee. The members of this last group, however, were ordered to stop first at the regional

124 Lt. Col. Josef Rypl (whose surname is misspelled in this report as Ripl) was a top StB official in charge of the
agency's main 2nd Department.

125 Coufal was a secretary to Rypl and the chief of the 2nd Department's 10th Section.

126 Five of these six names also are provided in Sedm praźskych dnú, p. 69. But instead of Škapa, Sedm praźských dnú
lists an agent named Burian, who, along with Jelínek, escorted a convoy to the Central Board for Communications.

-416-

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