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A memorandum on Efforts to Provide CPSU Members with the Plitburo’s Latest Analysis of the Crisis, June 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir.
"The Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998,
Original Source: TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 1, L1. pp. 92-99
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: Brezhnev called for a meeting between Soviet and Czechoslovakia after Marshal Yakubovskii left Czechoslovakia without consent from Prague to host the military exercises the same month. These are translated excerpts from the stenographic account of that day.
On the Dissemination of the CPSU CC's Periodic Report on the Situation in Czechoslovakia and Certain Foreign Policy Steps of the Romanian Leadership
The CPSU CC's report on the situation in Czechoslovakia and on certain foreign policy steps of the Romanian leadership was received in localities on 19-20 June of this year." Within 3 to 4 days, all members of the CC’s of the communist parties of the union republics, the regional party committees, the oblast party committees, the municipal party committees, and the district party committees became acquainted with it. This report, as before, was greeted with keen interest and stimulated a lively reaction among the party aktiv. It was noted that the report comprehensively discusses both the recent changes in Czechoslovakia and the position of the Romanian leadership, and provides a correct understanding of their political essence.
The party aktiv unanimously approves of the work carried out by the CPSU Central Committee in providing support to the healthy forces in the CPCz, which facilitates their effort to rebuff the anti-socialist elements. The letter from the participants in the nationwide party aktiv of the People's Militia, which was published on 21 June in our press, has been positively received. Party members are encouraged by the resolve of the members of the Czechoslovak People's Militia, which, as the armed vanguard of the working class in Czechoslovakia, consistently protects the gains of socialism in the country and friendship with the Soviet Union.
Satisfaction was expressed with the measures undertaken by the CPSU CC Politburo to lend assistance to the CPCz in normalizing the situation in the country. In particular, the trip to Czechoslovakia by Cde. Kosygin was well received, as were the results of the recent negotiations between the government delegations from the USSR and ČSSR on matters pertaining to the further development of economic relations and cultural tics between the two countries. The positive significance of the Czechoslovak Cultural Festival, which was featured at the end of May and beginning of June in a number of oblasts and cities of the Russian Federation, was noted. This was a clear demonstration of friendship between our peoples.
Intentions were also expressed to seek a further increase and deepening of contacts with representatives of the public and the workers in Czechoslovakia along all lines. In the Dagestan ASSR and the Stavropol area, a proposal was made to hold a meeting of veterans of the Great Patriotic War-participants in the liberation of the ČSSR with former soldiers of the Czechoslovak army-which could adopt an appeal to the workers of the republic. In the Primorsk area, and in the Novgorod, Tula, Voronezb, and certain other oblast party organizations, the idea of sending communist activists to the ČSSR under the guise of delegations and tourist groups bas been raised. These activists could propagandize the socialist way of life. It was also suggested that exchanges be increased for party delegations from oblasts and districts that support direct friendly tics with Czechoslovakia.
At the same time, the party aktiv are seriously worried because the CPCz still has not fully regained control of the situation in the country and because its leadership is wavering and is impermissibly lenient toward the enemies of socialism. "I, as a working man," said a member of the Minsk oblast party committee who is employed as a metal specialist at the Korolev auto factory, "completely fail to understand the position of the CPCz CC Presidium in the struggle against the intrigues of reaction. How can we put up with anti-socialist outbursts? In dealing with such matters one simply can't dilly-dally and give the initiative to the enemies. This could lead to the most unexpected results."
Members of the party committees of Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenia, and the Tatar ASSR, and the Volgograd, Kuibysbev, Kursk, Moscow, and other oblasts, express bewilderment at the CPCz’s failure to take control of the press, radio, and television, which are not now under its influence, and at its willingness to perrnit the press to be used in stirring up anti-communist and anti-Soviet passions. "We are dismayed to see" said the secretary of the Balasbikhinsk municipal CPSU committee in Moscow oblast, Cde. Rusanov, "that even such a newspaper as Rudé Právo, whose editor at one time was a great friend of the Soviet Union, Julius Fučik, a newspaper that during the bourgeois regime and the German fascist terror held fast to Marxist-Leninist positions, is now featuring simply unforgivable epithets directed against our country."
Noting the many instances of unfriendly attacks by the Czechoslovak press against the Soviet Union, party activists point out the necessity of displaying vigilance and of not giving further impetus to anti-Soviet propaganda. Speaking along these lines, the chairman of the State Committee on Radio Broadcasting and Television of the Council of Ministers of the Estonian SSR, Cde. Janimiagi, said: "Recently, Czechoslovak journalists and employees of radio and television have shown heightened interest in the national republics, including ours. Having arrived at the radio committee or at the editorial board of a newspaper, they often give ambiguous and, one might even say, provocative answers. Considering that the Czechoslovak press and other mass media continue to be outside the control of the party, we must be vigilant and not permit aspersions to be cast on Soviet reality.”
Party committee members are deeply interested in the position of the working class in Czechoslovakia as the situation unfolds. Typical in this regard is the statement by a worker at the Krasnodar oil equipment repair factory, Cde. Aleksenko, who said: "We are worried by the attempts of reactionaries in Czechoslovakia to sow discord in the working class and to oppose and bring about the ideological destruction of its communist party. It’s time to put an end to the incitement of anti-party sentiments among Czechoslovak workers and the efforts of rightist elements who are trying to remove the trade unions from the influence of the CPCz."
Cde. Zuev - a rnember of the Essentusk CPSU municipal committee and a member of the party since 1918, said: "We old communists can fully understand the CPSU CC's anxiety about the events in Czechoslovakia. The slogans that are now bandied about-'Councils without communists and the creation of opposition parties and unions, are very familiar to us from the history of our party, when the slogan 'Councils without communists' were used by the most intractable reactionaries. For that reason, vigilance, vigilance, and still more vigilance must be shown toward these events."
Communist workers were startled and dismayed when they learned that in the ČSSR the right to strike was formally enshrined in law. Thus, a member of the CPSU Volga district comrnittee of the Tatar ASSR who works at the "Radiopribor" factory, Cde. Pulataev, said: "We are very surprised that in a country in which power has been gained by the working class, the right to strike has been introduced. The working class of Czechoslovakia apparently does not understand that the very structure of the socialist order precludes such phenomena." A member of the Timiryazevsk district party committee in Moscow who is employed as a metalworking specialist toolmaker at the processing factory, Cde. Afanasyev, said: "It's upsetting that in Czechoslovakia the right to strike is legally enshrined. Workers don't need such a right, it just plays into the hands of the reactionaries." Very similar things were said in a number of other party organizations.
Exchanging opinions about this report, comrades who had traveled recently to the O-SSR or who bad met with representatives of the country, made personal observations and cited facts that confirm the information of the CPSU CC about the situation in Czechoslovakia. To take one example, the deputy minister of trade in the Latvian SSR, Cde. Gorbachev, said: "1've just got back from Czechoslovakia, where I bad the opportunity to meet many people. Even in discussions with leading comrades, one could sense the complacency in their evaluation of current events. They express certainty that the CPCz CC is rectifying the situation. However, it's not difficult to see that they are withstanding a force which is working against socialism. From discussions with faithful communists it is clear that no meetings of primary party organizations have been convened since January."
After being briefed on the CC's report, the secretary of the party organisation at the "Prikordonnik" collective farm in the Khust district of the Transcarpathian oblast, Cde. Kopanskii, offered his impressions of a recent visit to an area in Slovakia. He reported that the agricultural cooperative is interested in the work of the party organization. In his view, the role of party organizations there has greatly fallen, and the party assemblies do not take up vitally important questions. Most of the time, meetings and other activities are organized not by communists, but by different public organizations and clubs.
Speaking about the negative aspects of the events in Czechoslovakia, the comrades cited phenomena showing that the workers of this country are alarmed by the unfolding situation. An interesting example in this regard was cited by the secretary of the Moscow oblast Council of Trade Unions, Cde. Markeshin, who told of meetings and discussions be bad bad with delegations from the trade unions of the Eastern Czech oblast in the vicinity of Moscow. He declared that "members of a delegation gave completely disparate pictures of events in the country. For example, the chairman of the Council of Trade Unions, Cde. Kopecký, blatantly tried to downplay the significance and consequences of the student demonstration 'Majales' and to gloss over its manifestly anti-Soviet character." He said that this was just the "curiosity" of youth. In contrast to this fuzzy statement, Cde. Stašek, a steelmaker, and Cde. Suchopárek, a railway worker, regarded this demonstration as an anti-socialist, hostile action. If workers bad known about it beforehand, be declared, "they would have done whatever was necessary to suppress such hostile actions."
The first secretary of the Komsomol CC in Moldavia, Cde. Luchinskii, cited this point: "When I was recently in the GDR, we met a youth delegation from Czechoslovakia, who spoke with great alarm about the collapse of the Czechoslovak Youth League into a number of sprinter groups.91 The members of the delegation said that they will do everything necessary to ensure that the Youth League of Czechoslovakia retains a Marxist-Leninist position."
The materials sent out by the CPSU CC – “On the Current Situation” and “International Review" of great help to party organizations when carrying out explanatory work among laborers, in accordance with the decisions of the CPSU CC's April plenum.'-' Based on these materials, a broad campaign has been organized in all the republics, areas, and oblasts to read lectures and reports to the population. In Bryansk oblast, for example, more than 2,000 reports have already been presented, with more than 100,000 people having taken part. In Lvov oblast 846 workers' assemblies have been held on the theme of the current situation. Roughly 150,000 people took part, and 2,300 spoke.
Workers, collective farmers, and members of the intelligentsia listen to reports about the ongoing events with great interest and raise many questions. They are gravely alarmed by the
complex international situation, and they express firm resolve to exert all their energy to strengthen the might of our homeland and the unity of the world communist movement.
When the party activists were being familiarized with the CPSU CC's report, a number of questions arose. The most typical ones are attached.
24 June 1968
Deputy Head of the CPSU CC Department for Party-Organizational Work