The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 114: Pravda Editorial Justifying the Invasion,
August 22,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: "Zashchita sotsializma—vysshii internatsional'nyi dolg," Pravda (Moscow),
August 22, 1968, p. 1.

The Kremlin used this unusually lengthy editorial in Pravda to provide their initial rationale for the
invasion. The editorial begins with an explanation of why the Soviet Union and its allies chose to fulfill
the "request for military assistance "made by unnamed "party and state leaders "in Czechoslovakia, and
then assails, in eight sections, the Prague Spring. It proclaims the "defense of socialism" in individual
Warsaw Pact countries as "the most sacred internationalist duty for all socialist countries," especially
for the Soviet Union.

The language of the editorial reiterates, and in some cases repeats verbatim, arguments earlier set forth
in the Warsaw letter, in the letters sent by the Soviet Politburo to the CPCz Presidium, and in Brezhnev's
speeches at bilateral and multilateral meetings as well as at plenary sessions of the CPSU Central
Committee. The editorial, however, marks the first time that the Soviet authorities publicly attacked Dubček
by name, accusing him of heading a group of "right-wing opportunists "on the CPCz Presidium who had
committed "perfidious and traitorous acts."

The article was published simultaneously in the form of a pamphlet for mass distribution in Czechoslo-
vakia by the Soviet news agency Novosti.

The Defense of Socialism Is the Loftiest Internationalist Duty

Party and state leaders of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic have asked the Soviet Union and other allied countries to give the fraternal Czechoslovak people urgent assistance, including assistance through military force.

The request was motivated by the existence of counterrevolutionary forces acting in collusion with external forces hostile to socialism. These forces combined, have created a threat to the existing socialist system in Czechoslovakia and to the statehood of Czechoslovakia as determined by the Constitution.

The need to adopt a historic decision in connection with the request to the Soviet Union and other fraternal socialist countries for help has been fully justified in the appeal by a group of members of the CPCz Central Committee, the ČSSR government, and the ČSSR National Assembly, which is published in today's Pravda.13 This need was brought about by the danger of a fratricidal struggle that was being prepared by reactionary forces in the ČSSR.

… The governments of the USSR and of other allied countries have decided to comply with the above-mentioned request and to lend all necessary aid to the fraternal Czechoslovak people. The fraternal socialist countries are thus fulfilling their joint internationalist duty….

The fraternal friendship and military alliance between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were codified in the Treaty on Friendship, Mutual Assistance, and Postwar Cooperation, which was first signed in 1943 and then renewed in 1963. In accordance with this treaty, our states, our parties, and our peoples are obliged to come to each other's assistance whenever a threat emerges to the security of our borders and to the cause of socialism….

… As time passed … an atmosphere of disarray, vacillation, and instability was beginning to take shape in the CPCz itself and reactionary, anti-socialist elements, backed by international imperialism, were beginning to rear their heads….

13 This "appeal" was published alongside the article on page 1 of Moscow Pravda, but the purported signatories were
never identified either at the time or afterwards.

-456-

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