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The CPSU Politburo´s Instructions to Ambassador Charvonenko for Meetings with Czechoslovak Leaders, August 13, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir.
"The Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 357-359
Original Source: APRF, Prot. No. 38.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: These cables the CPSU Politburo contain instructions for the Soviet Ambassador in Czechoslovakia, Stepan Chervonenko.
Urgently call on Cdes. Dubček and Černik and, referring to the instructions of the CPSU CC Politburo and USSR government, tell them the following:
We have already drawn the attention of the CPCz leadership to a number of serious facts attesting to the blatant violation by the Czechoslovak side of the agreement achieved in Čierna nad Tisou. Under this agreement, all the mass media – the press, radio, and television – were to be brought under the control of the CPCz CC and the government, and anti-socialist and anti-Soviet publications were to cease.
However, in recent days a number of press organs have featured new materials that cannot be regarded as anything other than anti-Soviet and anti-socialist. These materials distort the negotiations between our parties and the conference in Bratislava. An attempt is being made to provoke a deterioration of relations between the USSR and ČSSR and to evoke mistrust and hostility on the part of the Czechoslovak people toward the fraternal socialist countries.
The problem is not with some isolated excesses, but with an organized campaign. An especially unsavoury role in this campaign is being played by Literární listy, Mladá fronta, Reportér, and Práce, which are relentlessly continuing to feature the publication of slanderous ravings against the Soviet Union and the other fraternal countries. These press organs have come to serve as the mouthpiece of the rightist, anti-socialist forces.
Issue No. 24 of Literární listy on 8 August published an article entitled “From Warsaw to Bratislava.” Monstrous though this may seem, the article equates the policy of the fraternal socialist countries with the policy of Hitler. The press of the fraternal socialist countries is placed on a par with the Goebbels propaganda machine. The newspaper writes, in a style akin to its subject, “The professional mode of thought of the propaganda machine, relying on its monopoly and distorting information through planned and deliberate misinformation, has not changed.” The newspaper pins the label of “lackeys from the publicist world” on journalists of the socialist countries and shamelessly argues about “cohorts of authors who are prepared to attack everything and who, upon receiving instructions from their ideological chiefs, opened fire /.../ against the Czechoslovak counterrevolutionaries.”
This same anti-Soviet polemical spirit pervades the article “Friendship and Politics,” published in the same issue of Literární listy. In the spirit of the bourgeois press, the article disseminates various insinuations and filthy rumours about the aims of the Soviet Union's policy. The newspaper states: “As far as Czechoslovakia is concerned, the Soviet leaders apparently are not overly confident about the capacity and desire of the people to maintain and develop socialism voluntarily and through democratic means, and the sole guarantee of inter-allied ties, in their view, comes from specific individuals.”
The newspaper Mladá fronta, in its issue of 10 August, carries a slanderous assessment of the Bratislava Declaration and provocatively says: “Bratislava is not the end, but the beginning of discussions, possibly, and of polemics.”
The journal Reportér, in its most recent issue in August, has published an article entitled “Giving in to Illusions is a Luxury.” It contains malicious slanders against the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, and vilifies the socialist way of life. Reportér impudently asserts: “We are under the threat of bureaucracy, which slowly but surely has submerged and is continuing to submerge socialism on a global scale. To this end we can expect its fraternal solidarity as well as a spirit of mutual understanding or full unity of opinions on all questions under review. We have, brought forth the specter of the liquidation of absolute power wielded by the bureaucratic caste, which was created on an international scale by the Stalinist model of socialism.”
At the same time, a boisterous campaign in defence of the remarks by General Prchlík against the Warsaw Pact continues to gather steam. We understand that the point of this campaign is not Prchlík himself, but the use of his name for greater and greater attacks against the Warsaw Pact. In this connection, we are bewildered by the statement in the newspaper Mladá fronta (if you can trust this newspaper) that Prchlík, as before, enjoys the full confidence of the CPCz CC Presidium.
Thus, there is every basis for regarding the emerging situation as a violation of the agreement achieved in Čierna nad Tisou. And this is the result not only of the active efforts of the rightist forces, but also the policy of “non-interference” by the leadership of the CPCz and the government in these processes. In effect this policy has ended up encouraging the actions of the anti-socialist elements. All of this we declare with full responsibility.
As you understand, we normally would feel obliged to react openly to such outbursts, to rebuff the provocative onslaught, and to declare that the Čiema nad Tisou agreement has been torn up by your side. However, we do not want events to develop this way and we hope that swift and forceful measures will be taken in connection with press organs like Literární listy, Mladá fronta, Reportér, and Práce, which indulge in anti-Sovietism.
We emphasize that the matter raised by you regarding the unfriendly expressions in organs of the Czechoslovak press is regarded in Moscow as extremely serious and urgent.
Visit the ČSSR president, Cde. Svoboda, and tell him that you have informed the CPSU CC Politburo about your conversation with him.
Let him know, in the name of Cde. L. I. Brezhnev, that the CPSU CC Politburo greatly values the understanding shown by Cde. President Svoboda towards our concern about the fulfilment of the agreement reached during the negotiations at Čierna nad Tisou, and about our evaluation of the danger posed by the rightist forces and their representatives in the CPCz leadership.
We view the president's intention to carry out active work among the ranks of the Czechoslovak People’s Army and among young people with great satisfaction, as well as his intention to make public statements supporting those working for the consolidation of friendship and unity between our countries and parties.
There is no doubt that at the present trying moment, Cde. Svoboda will have far-reaching influence, via his authority and direct participation, in determining whether the course and outcome of events move in the necessary direction, and in spurring the adoption and implementation by the CPCz leadership and government of concrete measures aimed at fulfilling in practice the agreement achieved at our bilateral negotiations at Čiema nad Tisou and reaffirmed at the conference of fraternal parties in Bratislava.
Confirm by telegram.