Negotiations and the Moscow Protocol
Source: "Alexander Dubček vzpomíná: Původní rozhovor pro Občanský deník o pozadí
srpnových událostí roku 1968," Občanský deník (Prague), Part 4, August 24, 1990, p. 3.
This is the last of four excerpts from the lengthy interview with Alexander Dubček. In it, he recounts
the negotiations in Moscow between Czechoslovak and Soviet leaders during the last week of August, and
the evolution of his decision to join his colleagues in signing the Moscow protocol rather than resign his
post as first secretary.
(For the rest of the Dubček interview see Document No. 67 "first two parts", and Document
Občanský deník: At your first meeting with Brezhnev, according to certain accounts, prime minister Černík also took part.
Dubček: That's possibly and most likely true. I can't remember all of it. I just know that when I arrived there the first time, I didn't know what was going on back in Czechoslovakia and so I refused to negotiate. I remember that I learned about the support the people were giving us, about the international reaction, and about related matters only from other members of our delegation who arrived later on.
Občanský deník: At the time when you were still refusing to negotiate, our delegation was coming under pressure from the Soviet side to brand the results of the 14th Congress invalid. The resistance of our delegation began to crumble as a result of G. Husák, who said in Moscow that Slovakia could not accept the results of the 14th Congress because Slovak delegates had not been represented there. He threatened that it might lead to a split of the party between its Czech and Slovak components.
Dubček: What you are saying is correct. G. Husák also expressed these sentiments after he returned. In Moscow he felt he somehow had to exclude himself from the collective in order to demonstrate to the Soviets that he regarded their demands to be the key issue. In this way he had already shown in Moscow that he was willing to comply with their wishes.
The story regarding the congress did not end there. I felt, and other members of the delegation supported my view, that we had a certain responsibility to preserve at least part of the validity of the 14th Congress. I had tried to come up with a plan about what to do when we returned home already in Moscow. We needed to take steps that would substantially bolster the reformist wing of the Central Committee. But how? It occurred to me that for the sake of maintaining the unity of the party—at least that is how I presented it to Brezhnev—we could coopt a certain number of people from the Vysočany Congress into the old CC. In that way the old CC, which had proven loyal at a critical moment when the Warsaw Letter was under consideration, could be strengthened in the way we needed it to be.
At the first session of the CC immediately after our return on 31 August, we coopted a "certain number" of 87 people from the Vysočany Congress. But what then happened? During the session, which was taking place in the Castle in Prague, someone came over to me and said that I had a phone call waiting in the president's office.51 It was Brezhnev asking what in the world we were
51 The Castle, near the bank of the Vltava River across from the Old Town in Prague, was (and still is) the site of the