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Draft Letter of Warning from the CPSU CC Politburo to the CPCz CC Presidium, August 17, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir.
"The Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 384-387
Original Source: APRF, Prot. No. 38.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: This letter was handed to Dubček by Soviet Ambassador in Prague, Stepan Chervonenko, on August 19. It should have delivered the day before but the orders were changed and the letter delayed.
TO THE PRESIDIUM OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA
The development of events after our meetings in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava compels us to put a question to you: Has the mutual understanding that resulted from these meetings been upheld, and is the leadership of the CPCz truly ready to carry out the agreements that were reached?
In Čierna nad Tisou we told you frankly, in a comradely way, our fears for the fate of socialism in Czechoslovakia in connection with the growing threat of counterrevolution. Along with you we came to the conclusion that this question affects the vital interests of the entire socialist community. The CPCz CC Presidium acknowledged that conditions in the party and the country call for more active and decisive measures against those who are discrediting the CPCz, who are attacking the foundations of socialism, and who are attempting to undermine the fraternal friendship between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. You assured us that the CPCz leadership would take the following concrete steps in the immediate future:
- assume control of the mass media;
- put a halt to the anti-socialist and anti-Soviet attacks in the press, on radio, and on television;
- put an end to the activities of various types of clubs, groups, and organisations supporting anti-socialist positions;
- carry out measures that would prohibit any activity by the Social Democratic Party; and
- carry out other relevant measures, including steps to strengthen the leading organs, with the aim of securing the leading role of the party and consolidating the positions of socialism in Czechoslovakia.
On the basis of the mutual understanding reached in Čierna nad Tisou in particular, we took joint measures to convene a meeting in Bratislava at which a joint statement was adopted. This statement evoked a positive response from the communist parties and peoples of the socialist countries. As you will remember, we foresaw that when the anti-socialist elements in Czechoslovakia learned about this new conference and its results, they would try to use all means to compromise the decisions of these talks and to invigorate the struggle against our common cause and interests.
The CPSU and the other fraternal parties that took part in the Bratislava conference believed that you would embark on a struggle against such attacks. We told you that as far as our party was concerned, we were ready to provide unlimited help in this struggle.
We are compelled once again to remind you of this because a number of serious factors confirm that events are proceeding in a direction that scarcely corresponds to the idea of what we agreed upon, and that the CPCz CC Presidium is not adopting effective, concrete measures aimed at their practical application.
In phone conversations between Cde. A. Dubček and Cde. L.I. Brezhnev we mentioned our serious concern about the continuing offensive of the anti-socialist and counterrevolutionary forces whose main assault, in recent days, has been against the Marxist-Leninist principles of socialism and proletarian internationalism, against the healthy forces of Czechoslovakia, and against fraternal relations between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and between Czechoslovakia and the other socialist countries.
In connection with this, at the behest of the CPSU CC Politburo the Soviet ambassador in Czechoslovakia Cde. S. V. Chervonenko spoke on two occasions to Cde. Dubček and Cde. Černik between 7 and 13 August. Unfortunately, though, the situation has not changed for the better.
Therefore the CPSU CC Politburo, based on its concern for the development of events in the CPCz and in the ČSSR, has decided to appeal to the CPCz CC Presidium, which bears responsibility for implementing the agreement reached between us.
We wish to draw your attention to the fact that the press, radio, and television are interpreting the results of the meetings in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava as a victory for the CPCz over the CPSU and the other fraternal parties. The Bratislava Declaration is being presented in a one-sided manner, often accompanied by a spirit of nationalism. We are not referring here to individual remarks, but to a general line.
Furthermore, the irresponsible assessments and conclusions that the press is publishing have been given de facto support by certain leading officials in the CPCz as indicated by their remarks.
Party and government officials who evaluate the results of the talks in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava objectively, from a Marxist-Leninist and internationalist position, are subject to vulgar attacks. They are being threatened, the public is being incited against them, and attempts are being made to depict them as “conservatives.” The CPCz CC Presidium, however, prefers to remain silent about all this.
Political campaigns are still under way to subvert friendly relations between the ČSSR and the USSR, discredit the policy of the CPSU, and provoke hostility among the peoples of Czechoslovakia as well as distrust toward the fraternal parties and countries. In this inimical unfavourable campaign against the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, one can not overlook the role played by the newspapers Literarní listy, Mladá fronta and Práce, and by the journal Reportér, which have long been transformed into the voice of right-wing anti-socialist and anti-Soviet forces. These organs systematically vilify the Soviet Union, which brought freedom to the Czechoslovak people and which liberated them from fascist slavery.
Political attacks organised against the workers of the Auto-Praha factory - the signatories of the well-known letter published in Pravda, in which the workers voiced their fears, presented their assessment of events in the ČSSR, and expressed their friendly attitude to the Soviet people – all serve this objective. In regard to this, we cannot refrain from mentioning that Cde. Císař, a secretary of the CPCz Central Committee, has played the role of an instigator in this harsh settling of scores. It is difficult to believe that such activities have a place in socialist Czechoslovakia.
Attacks are continuing against the Warsaw Pact. Insinuations are being made about the possibility of revising the Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava decisions concerning relations with the allied, socialist countries. There is talk about the need to leave the Joint Armed Forces of the socialist community.
The press is mounting a hysterical campaign in support of General Prchlík, who, as is well known, openly attacked the Warsaw Pact. The campaign in defence of Prchlík is being organised to put pressure on the CPCz Central Committee leadership and to demonstrate that the rightists control the personnel policy of the CPCz CC Presidium.
These and other facts confirm that right-wing, counterrevolutionary forces are being activated and are on the offensive. Despite many statements by official representatives about the steadfast course of the ČSSR vis-ŕ-vis friendship and alliance with the USSR, the mass media crudely slander the policies of the CPSU and the USSR. Rightists call mass meetings for no reason at which unscrupulous individuals speak out against the friendship between our peoples and parties. In Prague right-wing forces openly gather mobs of young rabble-rousers, who shout anticommunist slogans with impunity and throw stones at the building of the CPCz Central Committee. The rightists, using anticommunist slogans, are openly waging a campaign for the liquidation of the People's Militia. The counterrevolutionary forces are busy collecting signatures in support of the liquidation of the communist party.
Leninist principles of organization, which are universally accepted, are being violated in the CPCz along with its statutes. The Prague Municipal Committee is using its “non-stop conference” to exert pressure on the CPCz CC Presidium, and local party organs are using resolutions to alter the directives of the CPCz Central Committee. This has occurred in such instances as the letter from Auto-Praha workers, and when “blacklists” of party officials were drawn up in order to prevent them from being elected to the new Central Committee at the 14th Party Congress. In fact, the rightists are attempting to transform the Prague Municipal Committee into a second Central Committee and are seeking, in advance, to exert active influence on the results of the CPCz 14th Congress. The CPCz leadership is not offering any resistance to these actions.
Therefore, a situation has arisen in the country that is allowing anti-socialist forces to implement their plans and wage new attacks against the CPCz and the positions of socialism. Everything suggests that no decisive struggle has been organised so far against the anti-socialist forces. It is vital to strengthen socialism in Czechoslovakia.
We have the impression that there are forces in the CPCz CC Presidium who are inhibiting the development of this struggle and preventing the fulfilment of the agreements reached in Čierna nad Tisou and the declaration adopted in Bratislava.
The Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee wishes to stress, with all gravity, the urgency of fulfilling the commitments undertaken by you at this meeting and at the conference of fraternal parties without further delay. Any delay in this matter would be extremely dangerous.
In sending this letter, the CPSU CC Politburo expresses its conviction that the CPCz CC Presidium will pay close attention to it, correctly understand our concern and anxiety, and adopt the necessary, urgent measures.
The CPSU CC Politburo asks that all the members of the CPCz CC Presidium be informed immediately about the content of this letter.
17 August 1968 Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union