After the collapse of the “socialist community” and the peaceful change of the social system in Eastern European countries, and then the collapse of the Soviet Union, many phenomena in our recent historical past are re-evaluated, approaches to its key points change. In addition to the needs of political and ideological, manifested during any breakdown of public relations and change of guidelines, when often rewritten историяThere is also a more objective - documentary basis for comprehensive, comprehensive conclusions, as the archives of the former ruling parties and higher authorities are opened for scholars and the public.
As a result, our ideas about many important events in the sphere of domestic and foreign policy of the Soviet Union, the nature of relations with the Warsaw Pact allies, crises that have repeatedly shaken the foundation of the seemingly unshakable world socialist building, the confrontation of two military-political blocs.
During his visits to Eastern European countries in 1992-1993. Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave political assessments of such unlawful actions of the USSR as the armed suppression of the uprising in Hungary in 1956 and the intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. There was a fireworks display of numerous publications of documents and materials previously kept behind "seven seals" - before all in Russia, but our neighbors also have the conditions for analysis and research work, since there are still a lot of questions for historians.
In the history of world socialism, the "Prague Spring" of 1968 occupies a special place. Estimates of this historical phenomenon in a relatively short time — twenty-one years — have changed quite dramatically - from the “creeping counter-revolution” to the peaceful democratic revolution. The paradox from the very beginning was that the reform process initiated by the Communists, the ruling Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in the country and enthusiastically supported by the broad masses of the population, was soon, after 8 months, suppressed by the military force also by the Communists in power in the neighboring allies of Czechoslovakia according to the Warsaw Pact. Prague Spring ideas seem to be crushed tanks and forgotten, but as it turned out, they to a large extent influenced the birth, already at a new round of history, of the ideas of anti-totalitarian mass movements and revolutions that led in the late 80s to a peaceful change of the social system in the former socialist countries.
What is it - "Prague Spring"? Revolution or counter-revolution, conspiracy of internal and external forces, trying to “tear” Czechoslovakia from socialist camp, cosmetic attempt to pro-socialist reforms or a deep post-reform process with unpredictable consequences?
In any case, it was not a counter-revolution or some kind of ominous conspiracy of right-wing reactionary forces that planned to change the state and social system in Czechoslovakia. It is hardly possible to talk about a serious attempt by external forces, for example, NATO member states to use the turbulent social processes in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to detach this country from the socialist camp or the commonwealth, although in general their propaganda actively beat events in Czechoslovakia for sharp criticism of socialism.
In 1968 in Czechoslovakia during the "Prague Spring", it was primarily about the internal social process, which had the goal of democratizing the regime, freedom of the press, economic, primarily market reforms and the protection of national independence.
At its core, the Prague Spring was a social movement of broad masses of Czechs and Slovaks, members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, non-partisans, matured in the depths of the socialist system, afflicted with serious ailments, losing momentum and its advantages, unable to overcome the consequences of Stalinism. In fact, the movement of renewal and reform was initiated within the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia by leaders and groups of the nomenklatura elite and pro-socialist intellectuals. The most far-sighted leaders of the partytoracy, if we use the current cliches, saw a crisis of the system of power and control of society and were looking for a way out on the basis of modern achievements of social thought. In general, it was about improving socialism, about its revival.
The reformers' reflections reflected the development lessons of Czechoslovakia after 1948, i.e. the agony of building socialism according to the Stalinist model, the tragic experience of popular uprisings in 1953 in the GDR and in 1956 in Hungary, suppressed by force, and the Yugoslav way, including the principles of "public self-government". They turned their attention to the experience of European social democracy.
We must not forget that this was the period of the 60s - a time of expectations and hopes in the socialist bloc. The initial impetus to attempts at reform came from the decisions of the 20th CPSU Congress, from the Khrushchev "thaw" in the Soviet Union. In all socialist countries, steps were taken primarily to improve the system of economic management, there were discussions around the "Kosygin" reform in the USSR and economic reforms in Poland and Hungary.
In the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and outside its ranks, especially among the creative intelligentsia, student organizations also had heated debates on questions of the policies of the Communist Parties, the liberalization of public life, the abolition of censorship, etc. A country known for its democratic traditions, which had developed industry before the Second World War, clearly lagged behind its western neighbors. Attempts to change the economy were undertaken under the rule of A.Novotny (1904-1975), although he was known more as a dogmatist than a reformer. In particular, the economic reform, developed under the influence of O. Shika, had a market orientation. Its implementation created the prerequisites for subsequent changes in the political system, above all changes in the hypertrophied role of the Communist Party.
But the external impetus to change, as usual, served as personnel changes at the pinnacle of power. In 1966-1967 there was a steady increase in internal contradictions within the top party leadership, which was played out against the background of economic difficulties, disputes over de-Stalinization and democratization, as well as the federal structure of the state.
At the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPC 3-5 in January 1968, all this led to the resignation of the President of the Republic A.Novotny from the post of first secretary of the Central Committee. A conspiracy of more progressive forces took shape against him, all the groupings in the Central Committee united. Moscow knew about the situation, but decided to maintain neutrality, which meant, of course, free hand for Novotny critics. L. Brezhnev did not like A.Novotny, considered his policy the cause of the growing difficulties in Czechoslovakia, moreover he could not forgive him for some objections in 1964 on the form of liberation of N. Khrushchev from senior posts.
The first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was A. Dubcek, who previously headed the Central Committee of the Slovak Communist Party and advocated the renewal of the party’s policies. Four new members were introduced to the Presidium of the Central Committee. For the first time the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia headed Slovak. It was a kind of sensation, but essentially there was a compromise between various forces within the Central Committee.
In Moscow, this choice was calm. A. Dubcek was a famous man who had spent many years of his life in the USSR, a graduate of the HPS under the CPSU Central Committee. Apparently, they hoped that he would be a manageable figure because of the softness of his character, his flexible ability.
The subsequent period of the "Prague Spring" until about April 1968 was relatively quiet. Discussions about socialist revival, about the future of the country, were developing in the country. Censorship restrictions have weakened, new press organs and promising associations have emerged, including CAS - the Non-Party Club. An alluring feeling of freedom and independence acquired new and new fans. As for the leadership of the HRC and the government, apart from the general words about democracy, liberalization, new ideas and concepts, there was essentially no opinion, but inside there was a “positional war” for the redistribution of portfolios. Here is how one of the ideologists of the “Prague Spring”, the main developer of political reform programs, the former secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia Z. Mlynarzh, writes: “... for the whole three months the party leadership solved issues related to the distribution of chairs in the top of the party and state of the apparatus, and that is why it was impossible to embark on a well-thought-out reform policy. The public could not wait for the end of the struggle for the ministers and secretaries of the Central Committee. The problems accumulated but not solved over many years began to be discussed. wait openly.
Although the party leadership decided to prepare a “Program of Action for the HRC” in January, and it was drawn up at the end of February, its adoption was delayed until early April.
The Communist Party, as the initiator of change, essentially lost time and yielded political space to other non-party forces.
A. Dubcek obviously had his own reasons for this. He encouraged wide criticism of flaws and maintained an atmosphere of free expression of thoughts, but at the same time solved his problems. He needed to strengthen his position as a leader and achieve a change in the balance of forces in his own favor, push the dogmatists back. He was in no hurry to convene an emergency party congress. In general, he was preparing changes without pressure and exacerbations. At the end of March A. Novotny was dismissed from the post of president, General L. Svoboda became the new president of Czechoslovakia. Before that, several odious leaders from the Central Committee and the government were forced to resign.
4 on April 1968, the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPC, elected a new composition of the presidium and the secretariat of the Central Committee, in which there were enough supporters of Dubcek, although there were also "people of Moscow". On April 8, O. Chernik became the chairman of the government of Czechoslovakia. 18 April J. Smrkovsky was elected chairman of the National Assembly of Czechoslovakia.
But the atmosphere in the country was becoming different, the initiative gradually passed into the hands of non-traditional political forces, which put pressure on the party-state leadership through the media and in general outside the framework of official structures. At the same time, the public enthusiastically supported A. Dubcek and his supporters, the “progressists,” they were on the crest of a wave of public upheaval. The current president of the Czech Republic, well-known human rights activist V. Havel assessed the then state of the leaders of the “Prague Spring” and their relationship with the population: “... they were constantly in a state of mild schizophrenia: they sympathized with this social uplift and at the same time were afraid of him, relied on him and at the same time they wanted to slow him down. They wanted to open the windows, but they were afraid of the fresh air, they wanted reforms, but only within the limits of their limited ideas, which the people in their euphoria generously did not notice, but to pay attention. So, they rather just followed the events, rather than sending them. In itself, this did not matter, the society could do without their help. The danger was that the leadership, without having a clear idea of what is happening, didn’t imagine how to protect it. Being captivated by their illusions, they constantly persuaded themselves that they somehow could explain this to the Soviet leadership, that they would promise them something and thereby reassure them ... "
However, a different process was going on at the same time - mistrust and suspicion on the part of the allies of Czechoslovakia under the Warsaw Pact — the USSR, Poland, the GDR, Bulgaria and Hungary — grew. Of course, A. Dubcek was not a naive person in politics, he tried to maneuver, knowing full well how important it is for the fate of the reforms to find a common language with the owners of the Kremlin. The question that this may become impossible at all, at the time, it seems, has not yet risen.
In late January, A. Dubcek had a meeting with L. Brezhnev for many hours. He gradually got acquainted with other leaders, the most friendly contacts he had with Ya. Kadar. On the anniversary of the February 1948 events, when the communists came to power, all the leaders of European socialist countries, including N. Chaushesku, arrived in Prague at the request of A. Dubcek, supported by Moscow. There was even a UCC delegation. In early March, a new summit, this time at a meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact in Sofia. In the course of these contacts, the Allies, on the one hand, showed support for the new leadership of Czechoslovakia, but on the other, they tried to warn him against the dangers and against the sharp turns in reforming the policies of the Communist Party.
At the end of March, the 1968 of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union sent closed information to the activist on the situation in Czechoslovakia. This document reflected the prevailing sentiment.
“At the initiative of the Central Committee of the CPSU, delegations of fraternal parties of European socialist countries at the highest level were sent to the 20 anniversary of the February events in Prague. During the stay of the delegations, talks were held with leading figures of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia about the situation in Czechoslovakia, many anti-socialist and It was said about the need to repel anti-Party speeches and ensure unity and cohesion in the leadership of the HRC. Comrade A. Dubcek in all cases firmly assured that the new leadership The CPC Central Committee controls the situation and will not allow its undesirable development.
Recently, however, events have been developing in a negative direction. In Czechoslovakia, speeches of irresponsible elements are demanding, demanding the creation of an "official opposition", of showing "tolerance" to various antisocialist views and theories. The past experience of socialist construction is incorrectly highlighted, proposals are made on a special Czechoslovak road to socialism, which is opposed to the experience of other socialist countries, attempts are made to cast a shadow on Czechoslovakia’s foreign policy and the need for an “independent” foreign policy is stressed. There are calls for the creation of private enterprises, the abandonment of the planned system, the expansion of ties with the West. Moreover, in a number of newspapers, radio and television propaganda calls for "the complete separation of the party from the state", for the return of Czechoslovakia to the bourgeois republic of Masaryk and Benesh, the transformation of Czechoslovakia into an "open society" and others ...
There is an irresponsible all the escalating discussion of the suitability or unsuitability of a significant part of the leaders of the party and the state (the president of the republic, the chairman of the government, the ministers of foreign affairs, national defense, etc.) ...
It should be noted that irresponsible statements in the press, on radio and television under the slogan of “complete freedom” of expression, disorienting the masses, knocking them out of the right path, do not get a rebuff from the leadership of the HRC ...
The events taking place in Czechoslovakia are seeking to use the imperialist circles to discredit the policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and all the achievements of socialism in Czechoslovakia, to shake the alliance of Czechoslovakia with the USSR and other fraternal socialist countries. "
23 March, a meeting of leaders of parties and governments of six socialist countries took place in Dresden - the USSR, Poland, GDR, Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The initial intention of the meeting (and, in general, more frequent meetings of the leaders) came from A. Dubcek, who, still in Sofia, suggested holding a separate meeting of the neighboring countries of Czechoslovakia on economic cooperation. The leadership of the CPSU Central Committee supported the proposal, knowingly preparing to discuss the internal political situation in Czechoslovakia. They decided not to call the Romanians because of the special separatist line of N. Chaushesku in the social community. Bulgarians were invited at the insistence of the CPSU.
In Dresden, A. Dubcek poured cold water in a tub. In vain, he explained the provisions of the Communist Party’s program of action, “The Path of Czechoslovakia to Socialism,” and insisted that the party was not mistaken in assessing the situation. V. Ulbricht began to criticize the policy of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, added V. Gomulka, who said that counter-revolution was walking about in Prague. The HRC does not govern the country. L. Brezhnev spoke softer. But he expressed concern about the Soviet leadership. Moscow understands how the current dangerous situation could have developed. What kind of liberalization is Dub-check talking about? What is this update of the socialist system? Do not they see in Prague that the HRC wants to turn into an opposition party? The country is led not by the party, but by Schick, Smrkovsky, Goldshtüker and others. According to Brezhnev, if measures are not taken, then this is a last chance for the HRC.
The most reserved in Dresden was Y. Kadar, who did not agree with the assessments about the existence of a threat of counter-revolution in Czechoslovakia, although he did not deny the strengthening of negative tendencies in the country. He called for mainly political work, for the development of a political and ideological platform for the party, focusing on strengthening the ideological and organizational unity of the CHR. This position was consistent with the intention of the leadership of the HSWP to be an intermediary between the HRC and the rest.
After the meeting in Dresden, two approaches to the development of the situation in Czechoslovakia were clearly outlined. One is the path of reform, the program of giving socialism a "human face", which was supported by most of the leaders of Czechoslovakia, including representatives of the pro-Moscow wing in the party at that time. They do not deny the existence of right-wing, anti-socialist tendencies in Czechoslovakia, but believe that socialism in their country is not in danger, since the main political direction is “pro-socialist” and the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia is able to control public processes. Another approach is the position of the leadership of the CPSU and the leaders of the GDR, Poland, Bulgaria who supported it, who were alarmed by the course of social processes in Czechoslovakia, saw them as a threat to socialism, considered that the KPCH is losing power more and more, and A. Dubcek was a weak leader. The conclusion about the need to change the situation, to assist, was not too late.
The position of the leaders of Hungary was somewhat different. They did not deny the dangers, the intensification of anti-socialist elements, J. Kadar even drew parallels with the development of the situation in Hungary before October 1956, but they considered that the Communist Party and the Dubchekov leadership are able to cope with the growing crisis independently, without outside interference, especially military. The leaders of Hungary had their reasons. They experienced the tragedy of the 1956 uprising behind their backs. The country's prosperity, the well-being of the population was associated with the results of a radical economic reform that was just unfolding. "The Hungarian leaders wanted to protect this offspring from all sorts of cold winds. As for the position of Romania, its leader N. Chausheskou objected to all sorts of interference in the affairs of Czechoslovakia and the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia not because he was a champion of democracy and pluralism. No, he thought above all about the interests of Romania and his nationalist course, therefore, he spoke in the spirit of protecting full sovereignty. His foreign policy calculations were matched by the strengthening of Prague's course independent of Moscow, so he tried to encourage Czechoslovakia’s leaders to become even more independent. The USSR and its close allies sought to neutralize N. Chaushesku’s efforts.
After the meeting in Dresden, the Soviet leadership began to develop options for action, including in secret military measures. V.Ulbriht, T.Zhivkov and V.Gomulka believed that all means are good. To a certain extent, they collectively influenced L. Brezhnev. But before the final decision was still far away.
Considering the further tragic developments around Czechoslovakia, it should be noted that after the meeting in Dresden, the attacks of Moscow and its allies on the democratization process in Czechoslovakia intensified, and also attempts to exert pressure on the leadership of the reformers and simultaneously unite pro-Soviet opposition forces to it .
As for what happened in Czechoslovakia itself, the personnel changes in the government, the parliament and the leadership of public organizations that took place in April meant, on the whole, the strengthening of A. Dubcek’s positions and the reformist forces. At the same time, the tension in relations with Moscow was growing, although A. Dubcek did not think about breaking with the Soviet Union.
In this regard, it is advisable to analyze the initial motives of the behavior of the leadership of the Soviet Union and other "fraternal countries".
First of all, no doubt, Czechoslovakia, as a country with democratic traditions, is ripe for reform. At the same time, the majority of communist reformers, believing in the reformability of socialism, wanted to carry them out gradually, step by step, without public upheavals, and especially without civil war, having an example of peaceful transformations in Spain after Franco’s death. Naturally, they did not want the CHR to lose power by proposing a phased introduction of a pluralistic democracy. Other forces, mostly outside the CHR, led the case to the immediate freedom of action of other political parties, to free elections on a multiparty basis.
Pragmatic politicians understood that for deep reforms, the favor of Moscow was needed. A. Dubcek, apparently, was sure to get her. But the then Czechoslovak leaders did not take into account that within the rigid allied system of the Warsaw Treaty, consisting of countries adhering to the same official ideology - Marxism-Leninism, any transformation of the political course was allowed within the path or experience known in the "center" - the Soviet Union. The “innovator” N. Khrushchev stood on this, L. Brezhnev, M. Suslov and N. Podgorny, A. Kirilenko adhered to the same. There were enough statements about the creative application of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, but no one thought about genuine reforms in the leadership of the CPSU under Brezhnev. Economic reform slowed down, although A. Kosygin stood behind it. Separate attempts to update the style and methods of work of the party were undertaken by the young nomenklatura, but it is known that a whole generation of so-called Komsomol leaders was removed from power during the stagnation years.
Dogmatism, stagnation were covered with references to Lenin, to the postulates adopted at the world meetings of the Communist Parties of 1957 and 1960: the notorious laws of the construction of socialism. It was believed that revisionist sedition was coming from Prague. The usual instinct of self-preservation acted as well, and the Hungarian version of 1956 didn’t seem to repeat itself. The manifestation of such sentiments was especially observed in intellectual circles. There was a reason - a letter from Academician Sakharov to the West. Alarmed and riot students in Paris.
Imperial thinking, the psychology of a besieged fortress, reinforced by the years of the Cold War and mutual arms race, dominated Moscow in assessing the consequences of certain reforms and innovations for "real socialism." Everything was calculated from the standpoint of the balance of power and confrontation in the world, as well as damage to Soviet hegemony. Now, in some scientific works, one can find the opinion that the politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU exaggerated the threat from the imperialist powers at that time, because after the Cuban crisis of 1962, the cold war began to wane. Obviously, this is a somewhat simplified interpretation. The Warsaw Pact countries themselves took the initiative to convene an all-European meeting, but it was still a long way from 1968 to the CSCE. Distrust and suspicion were strong and mutual.
1968 also had its own specific foreign policy reasons for the nervous reaction of the USSR leadership — the war waged by the United States in Vietnam, tense relations with China, the Ceausescu nationalist line that weakened ATS. There was still no "eastern treaties" with the FRG, so the theme of revanchism in Bonn was heard all the time in official propaganda. Another circumstance allows a better understanding of the Kremlin’s position - different approaches among the Allied countries. The fact was the presence of the so-called northern tier of the ATS - Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow and other more liberal (Budapest) countries or countries that disagreed with Moscow (Bucharest). Romania, after the Sofia meeting of the PAC (in March), was immediately excluded from the allied discussions of the Czechoslovak theme. As for the position of the leadership of the GDR, V.Ulbricht and others perceived all that was happening in Prague as a deviation from the principles of Marxism-Leninism, as a departure from the leading role of the Communist Party and generally saw this as a threat to "workers and peasants" in the GDR . The process of democratization in Czechoslovakia, according to the leaders of the SED, was not dangerous for the situation in East Germany, since the destabilization of the situation in the GDR led eventually to the strengthening of unifying sentiments among the population, to the accession of the republic to the FRG. Berlin reacted very nervously to Prague’s attempts to intensify ties with the West, especially with the Federal Republic of Germany. V.Ulbrikht all the time pressed on the question of the security of the western borders of the socialist community. There was another reason for the decisive rejection by the top of the SED of the processes of the "Prague Spring". The ideas of "democratic socialism" were viewed in Berlin as a social democratic bias, as right opportunism. The ideological apparatus of the SED led a fierce struggle against the ideology of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, although W. Brandt was already the foreign minister of Germany. After the collective meeting in Dresden, V. Ulbricht and G. Aksen tried to influence A. Dubcek, but nothing came of it, of course. Moreover, mutual personal antipathy appeared. The exchange of information between the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the SED has ceased.
Something similar happened in Warsaw. V. Gomulka, who passed a difficult path to normalize the situation in the country after 1956, also feared that the processes in neighboring Czechoslovakia would have a negative impact on Polish society. The situation in Poland was quite tense, most recently in March, the police used force to disperse student demonstrations. The position of V. Gomulki, due to his impulsivity, sometimes underwent changes, but in general he was a supporter of decisive action. It was V. Gomulka who declared in July that the socialist countries could not allow the counter-revolution to prevail in Czechoslovakia. The Western press in the summer of 1968 occasionally reported a moderate position of Bulgaria in the approach to the events in Czechoslovakia. In fact, the leader of this country, T. Zhivkov, held a tough position, coordinating it with Moscow. Only in the matter of relations with Romania did he maneuver, seeking to maintain normal contacts with N. Chaushesku.
But, of course, the position of the top leadership of the CPSU was decisive. The final, fatal decision matured gradually. During April-May, the Soviet leaders still acted mainly by political methods, trying to “reason” Dubcek, to focus his attention on the dangers of the actions of anti-socialist forces. Applied measures of ideological, diplomatic and military pressure. Soon Moscow, as Z. Mlynarzh writes, succeeded in splitting the formerly single "troika" in the Czechoslovak leadership - A. Dubcek, Prime Minister O. Chernik and member of the presidium, secretary of the Central Committee D. Kolder. The orientation towards the left, pro-Moscow group in the leadership of the party, V. Bilyak and A. Indra, increased. It was an active exchange of information about the situation in Czechoslovakia. Here are some examples. In early April, Soviet ambassadors informed senior party and state leaders of the GDR, PNR, Hungary, People’s Republic that Czechoslovakia had an anti-state group that included Social Democrat Chernik, former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Ya. Prokhazka, General Kreici, writers and publicists Someone, Vatsulik, Kundera, Havel and others. Some of these people are in touch with the head of the bourgeois emigration, Tigrid. Literally a few days later, through the KGB, all the leaders, including A. Dubcek, were informed that an operational plan of covert operations against European socialist countries was developed and is being implemented in 1962 in the United States. J. Kadaru, for example, this information was stated by the deputy chief of foreign intelligence of the KGB, General F. Mortin.
At the end of April, Marshal I. Yakubovsky, commander-in-chief of the United Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact member countries, arrived in Prague. It was about the "preparation of maneuvers" in the territory of Czechoslovakia.
"Telephone diplomacy" was carried out by L. Brezhnev, informing the allies about contacts with A. Dubcek, agreeing on joint actions. For example, on April 16, he told J. Kadaru that, in his opinion, Dubcek is an honest man, but a weak leader. And events in the country are developing in the direction of counter-revolution, anti-socialist forces intend to restore the Republic of Masaryk type. If the planned Soviet-Czechoslovak meeting does not give anything, then the leaders of the "five" will have to meet. Then he raised the question of the Soviet-Polish-Hungarian military exercises in Czechoslovakia.
The mechanism of the military solution is included
The meeting of L. Brezhnev with A. Dubchek was held in Moscow on May 04. The Soviet side sharply criticized the development of the situation in Czechoslovakia, the weakening of the influence of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the anti-Soviet attacks of the Czechoslovak press. Understanding has not been reached. Perhaps, for Moscow, some result was that the materials of the May Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union spoke about the actions of anti-socialist forces in the country.
On May 8, a closed meeting of the leaders of the USSR, Poland, the GDR, Bulgaria and Hungary was held in Moscow, during which there was a frank exchange of views on measures in connection with the situation in Czechoslovakia. Even then, suggestions were made about a military solution. The special position of Hungary reappeared. Referring to the experience of 1956, J. Kadar said that the Czechoslovak crisis cannot be solved by military means, it is necessary to seek a political solution. At the same time, he did not object to the conduct of command and staff exercises of the ATS in the territory of Czechoslovakia. At the end of May, the government of Czechoslovakia agreed to conduct exercises, hardly suspecting that a rehearsal of a future invasion into the territory of the country was being prepared.
Exercise "Shumavo" held 20 - 30 June. In mid-June, L. Brezhnev informed the leaders of the Allied "Five" states that a revisionist group had been formed in the leadership of Czechoslovakia - Kriegel, Tsisarzh, Shik, Mlynarzh, Shimon. He raised the question of tearing Dubcek and Blueberry away from the revisionists and convincing them to rely on the "healthy forces" in the party.
The leadership of the Soviet Union continuously discussed the issue of options for action. In fact, what were the historical precedents? In 1948 - 1949, despite the threats of Stalin, Yugoslavia defended its independent course at the cost of a break with the USSR. In 1956, in Poland, a compromise was reached with the new leadership led by V. Gomulka, but before that there was a brutal suppression of the workers' performance in Poznan, and a massive Soviet military demonstration before the arrival in Warsaw of N. Khrushchev, 1956 was the uprising in Hungary, suppressed by the Soviet troops, who were invited by the hastily formed government of J. Kadar. The government I. Nadya was removed from power.
The Hungarian example loomed all the time, especially since M. Suslov, L. Brezhnev and Y. Andropov took an active part in suppressing the "counter-revolutionary insurgency" in Hungary. They reasoned like this: yes, it was hard, but after a few years everything returned to normal.
However, in 1968, the Soviet leadership did not want to waste time, to wait, as in Hungary in 1956. After all, when the hopes for I. Nadya were exhausted, we had to urgently throw Soviet troops into battle against the rebels, preventing Hungary’s neutrality and its way out from the Warsaw Pact.
But Czechoslovakia is not Hungary, they were shooting there, here the reforms proceeded peacefully. 1968 had a different and international situation, so the Soviet leaders did not want to take responsibility for intervening, having, it is true, a mandate from the rest of the allies.
Thus, Moscow’s desire to internationalize the Czechoslovak question, to link it with the security interests of the Warsaw Pact, was evident.
L. Brezhnev was the initiator of many consultations with the allies. But a forceful solution was gradually born, the contours of the notorious "limited sovereignty" doctrine arose. It cannot be ruled out that if a major military leader had been standing next to Brezhnev, the Soviet Union would have introduced its troops to Czechoslovakia under a plausible pretext back in May, and at the same time, possibly, to Romania.
Politicians continued to search for methods of influencing A. Dubcek, and in fact the military has been developing plans for a military operation in Czechoslovakia since April. The main role was to be played by the Soviet troops, the armies of Poland, the GDR, Hungary were assigned a political, subordinate mission.
Meanwhile, in Prague, the situation, from the point of view of Moscow, was complicated. The Communist Party increasingly immersed in discussions and lost influence. A certain part of the Communists turned towards the Yugoslav experience. Outrage in Moscow was caused by articles of the Czechoslovak press.
The democratic movement has become increasingly polarized. In June, they applied for registration of more than 70 political organizations. A committee was formed to re-establish the Social Democratic Party. Former bourgeois parties became more active, their numbers grew. The non-party opposition put forward the demand for a multi-party parliamentary system. At the end of June, the famous manifesto “Two Thousand Words” was published, composed by the writer L. Vatsulik and signed by many well-known public figures, including the Communists. This liberal in spirit document criticized the totalitarian system, the conservative activity of the HRC and proclaimed the idea of democratizing the political system and introducing political pluralism. It was openly spoken about the opponents of democratization, the possibility of Soviet intervention.
No need to explain that in all the capitals of the five allied states, the “Two Thousand Words” were regarded as a sharp attack against socialism. The condemnatory statement of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was sluggish in tone. Meanwhile, the party began preparations for the XIV (Extraordinary) Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, scheduled for 7 September. The Manifesto "Two Thousand Words" intercepted the initiative from the Communist Party with its demands.
In this situation, the Soviet leadership decided to hold a new collective meeting of the Allies with the participation of the leaders of Czechoslovakia to discuss the escalating situation in Czechoslovakia. In the letter of L. Brezhnev addressed to A. Dubcek on July 6, this meeting was proposed to be held in Warsaw on July 10 or July 11. 9 July was followed by a negative response from the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Moscow, referring to the fact that holding such a meeting would complicate the work of the Communist Party and the situation in the country. It was proposed to replace the general meeting with bilateral, in Prague, and not only with the five allied countries, but also with Romania and Yugoslavia. Despite the new proposals on behalf of the "five", the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party decided not to participate in the meeting in Warsaw, but offered to hold a meeting of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Communist Party and the Communist Party, and then a general meeting.
Many historians of the “Prague Spring” consider the refusal of A. Dubcek and other leaders to arrive at a collective meeting as a major mistake, as a result of which relations with the USSR and allies were finally broken.
In Warsaw, the Prague line was heavily criticized. Proposals about a military invasion sounded open, although there were also moderate voices from the same Kadar. In his speech, Brezhnev gave an alarming assessment of the current situation, describing that Czechoslovakia was moving away from the socialist community. From outlined the opinion of the CPSU on collective responsibility for the fate of socialism in each country, which later became known as the “limited sovereignty” doctrine or the Brezhnev doctrine, but nevertheless called for political steps, primarily targeting “healthy forces” in the CHR. The meeting participants sent an open collective letter to Prague. It was a warning signal.
The next stage on the path to the tragedy was the meeting in Chierna nad -Tisoy 29 July - 1 August, which was attended by the full composition of the Political Bureau of the CPSU Central Committee and the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party together with President L.Svoboda.
Did the Prague leadership understand the development trend of relations with the USSR and its closest allies? Obviously, not everyone understood in Prague. Of course, politicians-centrists like Dubcek and Bilberry were aware that to repeat the actions of the Hungarian Prime Minister I. Nadya, it would be dangerous to break with the USSR.
They understood that one should not joke with the belonging of Czechoslovakia to the Warsaw Pact. But they hoped that they would be able to communicate with Moscow, they hoped for their authority. They thought that they would make their way without conflict to the Fourteenth Party Congress, although after Warsaw everything was complicated. It was an illusion to rely on the support of Yugoslavia and Romania, to hold an international conference of European communist parties.
At the end of July, the preparation of the military operation was completed, it was called the exercise. According to the Spiegel magazine, 26 divisions were involved in the invasion, of which 18 were Soviet, not counting aviation.
But in Moscow the final decision was not made yet. Preparing for talks with the leaders of Czechoslovakia, the Kremlin proceeded from the fact that the meeting would take place in conditions of national unity in Czechoslovakia on an anti-Soviet basis, in the conditions of, it was thought, the growth of the threat of a right-turn in the policy of the Communist Party and a more radical attitude than Dubcek. Moscow feared that the power in Czechoslovakia could peacefully pass into the hands of "anti-socialist forces."
In the Soviet leadership, there were doubts. Can I still count on Dubcek? Did he fall under the influence of the “right” like Smrkovsky and Kriegel? These figures, as well as Tsisarzh, Pelikan, Interior Minister Pavel tried to neutralize and remove.
By that time, constant contacts were maintained with the President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and with the minority on the Presidium, primarily with V. Bilyak. The position, of course, was determined by L. Brezhnev and his entourage. But the leadership of the CPSU was by no means monolithic. The difference in approaches was felt in the Soviet embassy in Prague, there were their “hawks”, but there were also moderate ones.
The content of the negotiations in Čierna nad Tissoy is well known. The transcript takes several hundred pages. The atmosphere was tense.
In general, the leaders of the USSR sought to bind Dubcek with certain agreements on the framework of democratization, the preservation of the leading role of the HRC, the change of personnel, restrictions on the freedom of the media, etc.
The main agreements were reached at the meetings of the “fours” - Brezhnev, Podgorny, Kosygin, Suslov - Dubcek, Svoboda, Chernik, Smrkovsky.
The negotiations ended with a seemingly satisfactory result for Moscow.
The Czechoslovak delegation mostly spoke in a united front, but V. Bilyak held a special position. For Moscow, it was important. At the same time, a personal letter was received from the candidate member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia, A. Kapek, asking socialist countries for his "brotherly help".
A meeting between the leaders of six parties in Bratislava 3 in August 1968 immediately followed Chiernoy nad Tisoy. On the eve of L. Brezhnev informed the allies about the content of their agreements with Dubcek. The agreements reached in Bratislava, after discussions with the Czechoslovak delegation, were viewed almost as a success. The statement adopted in Bratislava contained the key phrase about collective responsibility in the defense of socialism.
After Bratislava, the most dramatic phase of the crisis in Czechoslovakia began. It seems that the situation is somewhat discharged. Some kind of compromise was reached. But neither the Soviet leadership, nor Ulbricht and Gomulka, the most active critics of the “Prague Spring,” did not believe in the ability and desire of Dubcek and his supporters to “normalize” the situation.
In Bratislava, L. Brezhnev received a letter from five members of the Communist Party leadership — Indra, Kolder, Kapek, Shvestka and Bilyak, asking for “effective help and support” to wrest Czechoslovakia “from the imminent danger of counterrevolution”. The legal basis for the invasion was obtained, although it was not a formal pretext.
But first they decided to check the mood of A. Dubcek. The main role in these contacts was assumed by L. Brezhnev, whose decisiveness increased as the radical step approached. After Bratislava, he went to rest in the Crimea, surrounded by his personal staff, in Moscow in the Central Committee "on the farm" was left A. Kirilenko, whom the secretary general fully trusted. The interdepartmental working group functioned. The KGB and the GRU were active.
8 August received an important telegram from the joint ambassador in Prague. After a conversation with Dubcek, he reported that although the leaders of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the government in Cierna and Bratislava pledged to fight against right-wing and anti-socialist forces in Czechoslovakia, Dubcek confirmed that he intended to significantly renew the composition of the Central Committee and senior management, but there was no complete confidence in his actions. Dubcek was accused of insincerity. The conclusion was made that Dubcek was not yet ready for consistent actions against the right.
Brezhnev from Yalta often spoke on the phone with the Soviet ambassador in Prague, with the leaders of other socialist countries. In Yalta, on August 12, for example, a closed meeting of Brezhnev, Podgorny and Kosygin with Ya. Kadar was organized. He was asked to speak again with Dubcek. I met with Dubcek and V.Ulbricht.
In mid-August, L. Brezhnev twice called A. Dubcek and put pressure on the questions: why the arrangements are not fulfilled, where are the personnel decisions promised, why is the separation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and state security not carried out? Brezhnev did not just remind his interlocutor about the agreements, but intimidated him: “anxiety arises in Moscow,” since everything again goes as before, the necessary decisions are not made.
Allies and "healthy forces" were informed about our steps. In Prague, they were recommended to act bolder, to press Dubcek. They advised to think about what extreme measures might be needed, what emergency bodies should be created.
13 August took another step - an appeal was sent to Prague by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU on the question of unfriendly speeches of the Czechoslovak press, breaking the agreement reached in Chierna nad Tisou. The Soviet leadership also informed President Liberty.
In conversations with Brezhnev, A. Dubchek avoided a direct answer, referring to the fact that personnel matters are decided collectively. That will be the Plenum, and there we will consider everything. Annoyed that he did not hold on to his post. Talked about difficulties. In response, the Brezhnev reproaches followed. But a warning was made: a new situation in Czechoslovakia could force Moscow to make independent decisions. In the end, A. Dubchek exploded and threw in the hearts: “If you consider us to be deceivers in Moscow, then why talk? Do what you want.” His position was clear - we are able to solve our problems on our own, without outside interference.
The behavior of A. Dubcek and the Prague leadership was considered unsatisfactory in Moscow. The mechanism of the military decision earned.
16 August in Moscow at a meeting of the top Soviet leadership held a discussion of the situation in Czechoslovakia. The proposals for the introduction of troops were approved. At the same time, a letter was received from the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was presented to A. Dubcek and O. Blueberry on August 19, the conversation was in the nature of communication between the deaf and dumb. On August 17, Ambassador S. Chervonenko met with President L. Svoboda and informed Moscow that at the crucial moment the President will be together with the CPSU and the Soviet Union.
18 August in Moscow, a closed meeting of the "five". The allies, without special objections, approved the views of the Central Committee of the CPSU that the CPSU and other fraternal parties had exhausted all political means of influencing the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in order to induce him to resist "right-wing anti-socialist forces"; The time has come for active measures to defend socialism in Czechoslovakia. They "agreed to provide the necessary military assistance to socialist Czechoslovakia" and approved relevant measures, which, in particular, included the performance of the "healthy forces" of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia asking for help and in order to change the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
The idea of addressing Czechoslovak politicians, which Leonid Brezhnev spoke about, was supported at the meeting. J. Kadar stressed that the open action of the left Czechoslovak forces is necessary. This is the starting point. Talking about his meeting with Dubcek 17 August, called it fruitless and ineffectual. Say, Prague departs from what was agreed in Bratislava.
V. Gomulka spoke about the desirability of publishing the letter of "healthy forces", especially in the West. But he suggested that the number of signatories for credibility be at least 50.
In a message to the President of Czechoslovakia Freedom, sent on behalf of the participants of the meeting in Moscow, one of the main reasons was receiving a request for assistance by the armed forces to the Czechoslovak people from the "majority" of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and many members of the government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
On August 17, a group of “healthy forces” was sent materials prepared for the text of the Appeal to the Czechoslovak people in Moscow. The intention was to create a revolutionary workers 'and peasants' government (they did not come up with another name, they worked according to the Hungarian model 1956). A draft appeal was also prepared by the five governments of the countries members of the Department of Internal Affairs to the people of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, as well as to the Czechoslovak army. A draft TASS statement on the entry of Allied forces was approved. The Soviet leadership, anticipating a negative international reaction, warned the Soviet ambassadors of the possible action in Czechoslovakia in a day referring to the appeal of a group of Czechoslovak politicians.
Everything was painted. Military recommended to capture the most important points in Prague. The arrests were allotted to the state security organs. On August 21, a plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and a session of the National Assembly were scheduled to take place, where the top leadership was to be replaced.
In the implementation of plans for military intervention, a large role was given to President L. Svoboda. A letter was sent to him on behalf of the leaders of five socialist countries. Specially telephoned L. Brezhnev. The President of Czechoslovakia did not approve the introduction of troops, but he assured that he would not go against the allies and would do everything so that blood would not be shed. He fulfilled his promise. The army was instructed by the president and the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to not oppose the interventionists.
The military operation went relatively smoothly. Allied forces occupied all points without using weapons. Small clashes took place in Prague.
But all political plans failed. There was a clear failure. It was not possible to form a new government and hold a plenary session of the Central Committee. On August 22 information from Ulbricht, Gomulka, Kadar and Zhivkov was sent from Moscow. It explained that the plans of the so-called initiative group in the Czechoslovak leadership could not be implemented. First, the “ordered” 50 signatures under the appeal were not collected. Calculations were based on authoritative Strougal, but he refused to sign. Collection was terminated somewhere on 18 signatures.
Secondly, the main complications occurred at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia 20 August night, when it became known about the introduction of troops from five countries. The majority - 7 vs. 4 - voted in favor of the Presidium’s statement condemning the invasion. Only members of the Presidency Colder, Bilak, Shvestka and Rigo spoke out according to the original plan. Barbirek and Piller supported Dubcek and Blueberry. And the calculation was on the odds of "healthy forces" - 6 versus 5.
With delay, control was established over radio, TV and newspapers. They had to be seized by Soviet servicemen.
With the help of employees of the Czechoslovak state security agencies, led by the deputy. Minister V.Shalgovich, Soviet paratroopers detained Dub-check, Chernik, Smrkovsky, Krigel and Shpachek.
"Healthy forces" took refuge in the Soviet embassy. But the Soviet Ambassador did not manage to persuade them to form new government bodies. The media has already managed to declare them traitors. Meanwhile, at the initiative of the Prague City Committee, began meetings of the XIV Congress of the Communist Party in Vysocany, however, without delegates from Slovakia. The situation in the country was getting tense. The people were shocked and outraged by what had happened, a wave of protest was mounting. Increased calls for strikes and demonstrations. The country was seething, demanding the withdrawal of Allied troops and the return of their interned leaders.
A member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU, First Deputy of the Pre-Council of the USSR K. Mazurov, who was in Prague at that time (A. Yakovlev, now well-known throughout Russia, was appointed his deputy for propaganda) reported to Moscow that the "healthy forces" were confused, and, as it turned out, they did not have "sufficient support neither in the party nor in the country."
The failure of the original political plans forced the leadership of the Soviet Union to change tactics on the go. Without negotiations with the legitimate leaders of Czechoslovakia could not do. A. Dubcek and his comrades from the "counter-revolutionaries" again became partners. Almost all members of the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia were brought to Moscow. The best way out for the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU was the proposal of L. Svoboda about official negotiations. He arrived in Moscow on August 23 along with G. Gusak, who at that time was deputy chairman of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
Brezhnev, Kosygin and Podgorny held separate conversations with President L. Svoboda, with Dubcek and Chernik, and also with Smrkovsky, Shimon and Shpachek. Finally, plenary negotiations took place.
What goals did the leaders of the Soviet Union pursue? They sought to sign a document with the Czechoslovak leaders, which would primarily justify the introduction of troops as a forced measure due to non-fulfillment of the obligations of the Czechoslovak side, taken after the negotiations in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava, and the inability to prevent a right-wing coup. The conversations took place under pressure and hidden threats, although ritual statements were made about the friendship of nations. There were no even hints of a clear violation of the norms of international law, no socialist relations. It was all very frankly and unceremoniously. Yes, the uninvited ones came, yes, the situation is difficult, yes, the normalization will be delayed, but let's look ahead and jointly look for a way out. No apologies from the Soviet side followed. Moreover, Dubchek had to listen to a lot of reproaches to his address.
Secondly, the condition firmly agreed in advance with Freedom was firmly set up - all the main leaders would return to their seats if the decisions of the party congress in Vysochany were declared invalid and in general the convocation of the new congress was postponed.
Third, to guarantee the fulfillment of the agreements in Čierna nad Tisoy and Bratislava on the fight against anti-socialist forces and control over the media. Without this, the Allied forces will not leave, they say, it will not be possible to deceive the Allies again. Moreover, Brezhnev firmly raised these questions, stating that the resistance would be broken, even at the cost of bloodshed.
Fourth, the withdrawal of Allied troops will be phased. USSR troops remain in Czechoslovakia, an agreement is signed on this.
Fifth, to carry out personnel changes, but "healthy forces" should not suffer.
From the moment of the invasion and at the talks in Moscow, the leaders of Czechoslovakia took a defensive position, trying to avoid clashes, bloodshed and victims. They quite consistently stated that the deployment of troops was an unprovoked and unjustified step that would entail grave consequences, including internationally. G.Gusak adhered to the same position, noting that the goals set by the allies could be achieved by other, non-military means.
Deciding not to retire at a difficult time for the country and save what could have been saved, A. Dubcek and his comrades doomed themselves to the signing of the humiliating Moscow protocol. (Only F.Krigel refused to sign it.) They could include Moscow’s agreement with the January and May (1968) Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the promise to withdraw the Allied forces to their relative successes. Obviously, again the illusions prevailed that something could be done in the future. But the Moscow Protocol and other agreements defined the framework for the "normalization" of the situation in Czechoslovakia, meant a curtailment of democratization. And in this process, as it was quickly confirmed, there was no place for A. Dubcek, J. Smrkovsky, and then O. Chernik. In April, 1969 was headed by G. Gusak, later elected president of Czechoslovakia. In the course of restoring order, inner-party purges, the ideas of the “Prague Spring” were anathematized. The majority of the population, having experienced the shocks of August 1968 and seeing the surrender of their former heroes, relatively quickly put up with the new situation, but the memory of the "Prague Spring" lived.
For the Soviet Union, the strangulation of the "Prague Spring" turned out to be associated with many grave consequences. The imperial "victory" in 1968 overlapped the oxygen of reforms, strengthening the position of dogmatic forces, strengthened the great-power features in Soviet foreign policy, and contributed to the strengthening of stagnation in all spheres.
With the beginning of perestroika in the USSR in wide circles of Czechoslovak society, the hope for change was revived. Consonance ideas 1968 and 1985. was significant. Prague residents enthusiastically greeted M.Gorbachev, who arrived on a visit to 1987. But the Soviet leader didn’t go for a review of 1968 ratings. He praised G. Gusak and staked on M. Yakesh.
One of the main demands of the velvet revolution, which won 1989 in November, was the condemnation of the 1968 intervention and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country.
The Soviet leaders, with a delay that was generally characteristic of M. Gorbachev’s policy, acknowledged the erroneous and unjustified intervention of the USSR and its allies in the internal affairs of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Social development in Eastern Europe was already proceeding along a new path, the ideas of reforming socialism turned out to be unclaimed. Soon, the former system of power collapsed in the Soviet Union.