In 1968, Czechoslovakia's liberal reforms, dubbed the “Prague Spring”, proceeded rapidly. That is how, according to the American scenario, preparation for a coup d'état has always begun and begins in a “peaceful” way. The change of power by the “angry” masses is today widely known as the “color revolution”. Already at that time, the Soviet Union and some socialist countries saw in this process a threat to the existence of the Warsaw Pact, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, and finally, the entire socialist community. The leaders of the Commonwealth viewed Czechoslovak events as a dangerous “virus” that could spread to other countries.
History showed how right they were. As for Czechoslovakia, almost two decades later, it was under the banner of the “Prague Spring” that the “velvet” revolution unfolded in the country. After her victory in 1989, the Czechoslovak Federal Republic (CSFR) was proclaimed. In January, 1993 was officially proclaimed the Czech and Slovak Republics. The united country has ceased to exist.
If the USSR and its allies had not sent troops to Czechoslovakia, the same would have happened in August 1968. Then Czechoslovakia would have withdrawn from the Warsaw Pact, divided into two states, joined the Czech and Slovak parts of NATO, the European Community (EU) etc. As world practice shows, “socialism with a human face”, which the Czechoslovakia decided to build, everywhere began and ended the same way - in Poland, Hungary, Romania, the GDR, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.
It was about the threat of the destruction of the European and world security system that the leaders of the socialist countries persistently warned the CPC leaders from March to August 1968.
This is clearly indicated by non-engaged Western researchers. Thus, the author of the book about the activities of Western intelligence services against the leadership of Eastern European countries “Operation Split”, an English journalist Stephen Stewart writes: “... in each of these cases (the introduction of troops into Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 year. - V. P.) Russia was facing not only the loss of the empire, which would be of quite serious importance, but also in the face of the complete erosion of its strategic positions on the military-geopolitical map of Europe. And in this, more than in the fact of the invasion, there was a real tragedy. ” Further, Stewart concludes, which is hard to disagree: “It was rather for military rather than political reasons that the counter-revolution in these two countries was doomed to suppression: because when they revolted, they ceased to be states and instead turned into to the military flanks. "
The logic of the actions of the Soviet leadership of that time is amply illustrated by a short excerpt from the memoirs of the “curator” of Czechoslovakia, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, K.T. Mazurova: “Despite the nuances, the common position was the same: it is necessary to intervene. It was hard to imagine that a bourgeois parliamentary republic would appear at our borders, overrun by the Germans of the Federal Republic of Germany, and after them by the Americans. ”
At an expanded meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU 16 on August, it was decided to send troops to Czechoslovakia. The reason was the letter of appeal of a group of Czech party and state leaders (their names were not called then) to the governments of the USSR and other Warsaw Pact countries on the provision of “international assistance”. 18 August, the Soviet leadership made the final decision to conduct the strategic operation "Danube" (the introduction of troops). The decision was approved at a meeting of the leaders of the countries of the Warsaw Pact (ATS) in Moscow also on August 18.
The all-time leadership of the Armed Forces of the USSR, Minister of Defense of the USSR Marshal A. Grechko, who assembled that day, said: “I have just returned from the Politburo meeting. A decision was taken to bring the troops of the Warsaw Pact countries into Czechoslovakia. This decision will be implemented even if it leads to a third world war. ”
... A battle alert was announced in 23.00 20 in August 1968. Through a closed communications channel, a signal was sent to all fronts, armies, divisions, brigades, regiments and battalions. On this signal, all the commanders had to open one of the five secret packages they had stored (the operation was developed in five variants), and burn four of them left in the presence of the chiefs of staff without opening them. The opened packages contained an order for the start of Operation Danube and for the continuation of hostilities (that is) in accordance with the plans for the Danube Canal and the Danube Canal Globus.
A few hours earlier, all the officers were given a dozen sheets of large-scale topographic maps (secret). The sheets were glued into one long strip that ran through the territories of Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, up to the English Channel. Red arrows indicated their troops and troops of other Warsaw Pact countries. Brown lines outlined traffic routes reaching the western borders of Czechoslovakia. Everyone was sure - go to war. None of us (I was a 20-year-old lieutenant at the time) did not know whether to return home.
The purpose of the operation was simply explained to the soldiers and officers: the counterrevolutionaries who had seized power in Czechoslovakia opened the border with the Federal Republic of Germany, so the Soviet troops must get ahead of the NATO invasion scheduled for the morning of August 21. The probability of such an invasion was, by the way, sufficiently high. So, still 6 in May 1968 at the meeting of Politburo L.I. Brezhnev said: “... We need to protect ourselves and the entire socialist camp in the west, on the border with the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria. We proceed from the fact that on the part of the Federal Republic of Germany on this part of the border stands the 21 division, American and German. We haven’t really learned from Czech friends, but we imagine that there’s nothing serious on their part at the border ... We know that the introduction of troops and the adoption of other measures that we are planning will cause a riot in the bourgeois press. Obviously, in the Czech. Well, well, this is not the first time. But we will preserve socialist Czechoslovakia, but then everyone will think that it is impossible to joke with us. If our 10 divisions stand on the border with the Federal Republic of Germany, the conversation will be completely different. ”
According to Vladimir Belous, a professor at the Academy of Military Sciences, a retired major general, in 1960-1970. The US has created a powerful tactical nuclear grouping in Europe weaponswhich had about 7000 ammunition. Only the army of Germany (Bundeswehr) numbered about 500 thousand people.
From the very beginning, the Bundeswehr was fully incorporated into the military structure of NATO and was subordinate to the joint command of the alliance. In the USSR, the Bundeswehr was called nothing less than “the army of revenge”, since former Hitler generals were actively involved in its creation. By 1957, for example, there served more than 10 thousand officers, 44 generals and admirals who fought in the Nazi troops.
As early as July 1968, the European forces of NATO were put on a state of partial combat readiness. Special armored units of the American army advanced to the borders of Czechoslovakia in Bavaria. At Grafenwer training ground (training center) in Germany, NATO Tanks stood in columns, ready for immediate action. Hundreds of steel-casting trunks could be seen from the Czechoslovak side with the naked eye.
On the night of August 20-21, General Parker, who was on duty at NATO headquarters, gave the order to hang atomic bombs from aircraft. Commanders aviation divisions received orders in sealed envelopes, subject to opening on a special signal. They indicated targets for bombing in the socialist states.
The retired Lieutenant-General Alfred Gaponenko, a regiment commander in those years, recalled: “I was given the task of striking my regiment on the flank of the NATO forces, who, under the guise of the Black Lion exercises, concentrated on the territory of the FRG and were preparing to invade Czechoslovakia. The lines of deployment of the regiment were determined, which was to operate as part of the 120 Motorized Rifle Division as part of the rate reserve of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Union. Military units were to be transferred to the area of possible military operations through the territory of Poland. ”
At the headquarters of NATO, a special group was created, which included operational detachments. The task is “the Czechoslovak problem”. Starting in July, 1968 in Regensburg (Germany) began to operate a “strike group headquarters”, at the disposal of which more than 300 intelligence officers and political advisers from NATO were assigned. Three times a day, NATO headquarters received reports on the situation in Czechoslovakia, collected by the “strike group headquarters”. As it was established later, at that time there were more than 200 specialists from the NATO army in the country and over 300 people from spy centers. The CIA and the Pentagon believed that with so many “specialists” it was possible to provide guidance for the activities of 75 thousands of “rebels”.
According to the US State Department, the number of American citizens in the summer of 1968 in Czechoslovakia was about 1500 people. By 21 August 1968, their number increased to 3000. According to the American press, most of them were CIA agents.
In the first half of 1968 alone, more than 368 thousand German tourists crossed the Czechoslovak border. Such a massive influx of "travel lovers" from a neighboring country has never happened before.
In West Germany and Austria, training centers were set up for explosives, underground radio stations, spies and saboteurs were trained, weapons and ammunition were brought in. In Czechoslovakia created caches. The country was just awash with weapons. Since the end of August, Allied troops transported explosives, machine guns, rifles, pistols, machine guns, ammunition for them, grenade launchers and even light guns from Czechoslovakia.
And already on August 22, the commander of the West German 2 Corps, Lieutenant General Tilo, at the direction of the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, ordered the creation of a special headquarters to coordinate the "psychological war" against Czechoslovakia. The official task of his was “maintaining technical communication” with Czechoslovakia. In fact, it was the center of "radio". He was led by Colonel I. Trench, a leading West German specialist in psychological sabotage. He gained the experience of subversive ideological actions during the counter-revolutionary insurrection in Hungary. Almost all members of the headquarters managed to visit Czechoslovakia under the guise of "journalists" in order to reconnoiter the upcoming "psychological operations." At this time in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic itself, lies, misinformation, slander were replicated around the clock by dozens of underground radio stations, print media, and television.
The standard western interpretation of the Czechoslovak events of those years is extremely uncomplicated: they say, in the wake of the spontaneous popular movement, the reformers from the Czechoslovak Communist Party headed by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Aleksandr Dubcek took the road of building “socialism with a human face”. (Later, Gorbachev also wanted to build something similar and also “with a human face.) However, it was precisely such socialism that the Soviet leadership did not need, and, in the interpretation of the West, for political and ideological reasons, it organized military intervention and interrupted the democratization of socialism, welcomed and supported by the West, which sought to prevent this intervention.
In Prague and other major cities, rumors of Western assistance spread in the event of an aggravation of the situation. The Czechs and Slovaks believed this, having forgotten the lessons of Munich, when the Anglo-Saxons and the French surrendered them to Hitler in order to provide the Fuhrer with a bridgehead and an additional military-industrial base for an attack on the USSR. In 1968, the West managed to instil confidence in parts of the country's top and intellectuals that it would help, provoking a further aggravation of relations between Czechoslovakia and the USSR.
Inside Czechoslovakia, the counterrevolution was preparing to cast off the mask of the guardians of "socialism with a human face."
Here is just one example: “July 26 1968. Strictly secret (resident of the KGB). The facts of the discovery of weapons depots in various regions of Czechoslovakia that are already known to you indicate that the reaction not only does not exclude the possibility of an armed clash with supporters of socialism, but is also actively preparing for this case. The unions of officers of the former Benesh army, the "union of foreign soldiers" were created. And at the debating party at the University of Prague with the participation of several hundred people, the head of the “Active Non-Party Club”, officially numbering up to 40 thousand members across the country, Ivan Svitak openly stated that in the interest of bringing the democratization process to achieving “absolute freedom”, the way civil war.
In mid-July, leaders of the USSR, Poland, the GDR, Bulgaria and Hungary gathered in Warsaw to discuss the situation in Czechoslovakia. The meeting produced a message to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, requiring energetic measures to restore order. It also said that the defense of socialism in Czechoslovakia is not a private matter of this country only, but the direct duty of all countries of the socialist community. The possibility of a “chain reaction” in the neighboring socialist countries, where the social upheavals in the GDR (1953) and Hungary (1956) were still fresh in mind, led to a sharply negative attitude to the Czechoslovak “experiment” not only of the Soviet, but also of the East German (W. Ulbricht) , Polish (V. Gomulka) and Bulgarian (T. Zhivkov) leadership. A more reserved position was occupied by J. Kadar (Hungary). The Czechs themselves also did not exclude the possibility of using their own armed forces inside the country. Thus, Minister of Defense M. Dzur considered the possibility of dispersing demonstrations in front of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with the help of army armored personnel carriers.
Alexander Dubchek at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia 12 of August stated directly: “If I come to the conclusion that we are on the verge of counter-revolution, then I will call the Soviet troops”.
The option of military intervention in the affairs of Prague was discussed in the leadership of the USSR throughout the year 1968. As Vasil Bilak told already in 1989 (1968 was the first secretary of the Slovak Communist Party in 3), on August 19 XNUMX prominent party leaders led by him secretly sent Brezhnev a letter asking for military assistance against Dubcek. The position of other countries of the socialist community had a huge influence (if not decisive) on the adoption of a force-based solution to the contradictions that arose. According to eyewitnesses, the Minister of Defense, Marshal Grechko, said that Brezhnev did not want to send troops for a long time, but Ulbricht, Gomulka, and Zhivkov pressured him. A special certificate of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee on this occasion noted that the leaders of the GDR, Poland, Bulgaria and, to a lesser extent, Hungary "consider the Czechoslovak events as a direct threat to their regimes, a dangerous infection that can spread to their countries." The leadership of the GDR, in an interview with Soviet officials, expressed views on "the advisability of providing collective assistance from the fraternal parties to the leadership of Czechoslovakia, up to the use of extreme measures."
The First Secretary of the PUWP Central Committee, V. Gomulka, expressed himself more categorically: “We cannot lose Czechoslovakia ... There is a possibility that we may lose to other countries, such as Hungary and the GDR. Therefore, we should not stop even before armed intervention. I have already expressed a thought and now I see no other way out how to introduce the forces of the Warsaw Pact, including Polish troops, into the territory of Czechoslovakia ... It’s better to do it now, later it will cost us more. ”
A similar position was occupied by the leader of Bulgaria, T. Zhivkov. Hungarian leadership. As already mentioned, it was more cautious, but at the same time considered the situation in Czechoslovakia as "the prologue of the counter-revolutionary insurrection in Hungary." Required to solve the problem by force and "hawks" in the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee P.E. Shelest, N.V. Podgorny, K.T. Mazurov, A.N. Shelepin et al. 17 August Brezhnev wrote a letter to Dubcek in which he argued that the anti-Soviet, anti-socialist propaganda in Czechoslovakia does not stop and that this contradicts the agreements reached earlier. Dubchek did not respond to the letter. On the night of 20 on 21 in August, the Warsaw Pact countries introduced troops into Czechoslovakia.
In accordance with the plan of command, the Carpathian and Central Fronts were formed. To cover the current grouping in Hungary, the Southern Front was deployed.
The Carpathian Front was created on the basis of the control and troops of the Carpathian Military District and several Polish divisions. It consisted of four armies: the 13-I, 38-I combined, 8-I Guards Tank and 57-I air. At the same time, the 8-I Guards Tank Army and part of the forces of the 13-Army began moving to the southern regions of Poland, where Polish divisions were additionally included in their composition.
The central front was formed on the basis of the management of the Baltic Military District, with the inclusion of troops of the Baltic Military District, GSVG and SGV, as well as individual Polish and East German divisions. This front was deployed in the GDR and Poland. The Central Front consisted of the 11-I and 20-I guards combined-arms and 37-I air armies.
In addition to the Southern Front, the Balaton task force was also deployed on the Hungarian territory. It included two Soviet divisions, as well as Bulgarian and Hungarian units. In total, about 500 thousand people took part in Operation Danube. At the same time, about 1 ths. Military personnel acted as part of the 240 tier: from the USSR - 170 thousand people, from the NDP - 40 thousand people, GDR - 15 thousand people, from NRB - 10 thousand . person.
In the course of direct training of troops, a longitudinal white stripe was applied on top of the equipment - a distinctive feature of the troops being introduced. All other equipment during the operation was subject to "neutralization", and preferably without fire exposure. In the event of resistance, tanks and other military equipment were subject, according to instructions issued to the troops, to be defeated immediately upon opening fire on our troops.
When meeting with NATO troops, it was ordered to stop immediately and “not to shoot without a command”. On the destruction of the Czech technology, which opened fire, no "sanctions" were required.
August 20 22 hours 15 minutes to the troops received a signal "Vltava-666": go ahead! In 1.00 21 August 1968, the units and formations of the ATS armies crossed the state border of Czechoslovakia. For 36 hours they occupied the country in the center of Europe (in Afghanistan, by the way, the USSR fought with only four divisions). In total, 70 ATS divisions were put on alert. It was the most grandiose strategic military operation in scope, which the Soviet Army carried out in the post-war period.
In one of his speeches, L. I. Brezhnev justified the introduction of ATS troops in Czechoslovakia: when in a particular socialist country internal and external forces hostile to socialism try to restore capitalism when socialism is threatened in one country, it is not only a problem This nation and this country, but all socialist countries. In the West, they immediately called it the “Brezhnev doctrine”. But the West, as usual, crafty here, in the NATO charter, it is also stated that in case of a destabilization of the situation in a country - a member of NATO that threatens to destabilize in other countries - members of NATO, the organization has the right to military intervention.
The conclusion made at the meeting of the advisory committee of the European Council, which took place in Strasbourg after the introduction of troops in Czechoslovakia, is also very instructive. It was stated there that the introduction of troops and the situation that had developed as a result broke the Council’s Eastern European strategy, since it was assumed that Czechoslovakia would become the main “intermediary” in relations between Western and Eastern Europe. In fact, it was said that it was precisely the rapidly growing Czechoslovakia that was assigned the role of such a “corridor” along which the NATO troops freely went directly to the borders of the USSR.
In fact, this "corridor" in half "cut" the socialist community than radically changed not only the political map of Europe, but also the world. But, most importantly, it created a real threat to the security of our country.
At the same time, an analysis of the statements of Western politicians suggested that the United States and NATO would not intervene in the conflict at a crucial moment. The main reason for such a conclusion was the statement by US Secretary of State D. Rask that the events in Czechoslovakia are a personal matter, above all, of the Czechs themselves, as well as other Warsaw Pact countries (a similar statement was made during the Hungarian crisis, then the Americans did not officially intervened). The final US position on this issue was recorded in the message of the American President L. Johnson. Brezhnev from 18 August, which confirmed the intention of Washington not to intervene in the situation in Czechoslovakia under any circumstances.
This is what 26 August reported to A.I. Brezhnev (in the notes of the member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Republic of Kazakhstan Z. Mlynarzh): “The results of the Second World War are unshakable for us, and we will stand on their guard even if we are threatened by a new conflict”. He stated quite unequivocally that a military invasion of Czechoslovakia would have been undertaken at the cost of any risk. But then he added: “However, at present there is no danger of such a conflict. I asked President Johnson whether the American government fully recognizes the agreements signed at Yalta and Potsdam today. And on August 18 I received the answer: with regard to Czechoslovakia and Romania - entirely, the discussion only requires the issue of Yugoslavia. ”
However, on the eve of 21 August, the Soviet leadership nevertheless informed the American President Johnson about the upcoming action.
At the same time, it seems that the Czechoslovak events were a dual-purpose test for the West: to test the USSR, its new - after Hruschev and post-Caribbean - leadership for strength and, if possible, repel Czechoslovakia; if it does not work out, then provoke the USSR into entering the troops and plant a time bomb according to the method of Operation Split. The second option worked, and, unfortunately, the Soviet leadership did not do the holistic and long-term lessons from the Czechoslovak events: the USSR collapsed. But intervention in the conflict between the NATO and US armed forces was not foreseen, at least at the first stage, until serious resistance was exerted, which was not at all excluded, given the fact that the Czechoslovak “fifth column” represented not only rally intellectuals, but also tens of thousands of people possessing weapons.
The USSR and four other countries - members of the ATS also acted then in full accordance with the pragmatic principles of "real politics". As the Czechoslovak Events 1968 of the Year in the Eyes of a Soviet Army Sergeant and Lawyer wrote in his publication, the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, a member of the Committee on Civil, Criminal, Arbitration and Procedural Laws Yu.P. Sinelshchikov, “The USSR acted in accordance with Art. 5 of the Warsaw Pact, which stated that the parties to this treaty "agreed on the creation of a Joint Command by their armed forces, which will be allocated by agreement between the Parties to the jurisdiction of this Command, acting on the basis of jointly established principles. They will also take other concerted measures necessary to strengthen their defense in order to protect the peaceful work of their peoples, to guarantee the inviolability of their borders and territories and to provide protection against possible aggression. ”
In March 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia could take moral responsibility for the invasion of the Warsaw Pact countries into Czechoslovakia in 1968, but would not in any way take legal responsibility.
According to V. Putin, the ex-president of Russia B. Yeltsin during his visit to Prague, which took place 13 years ago, already declared that Russia would not take responsibility for the events of 1968. He stressed that Yeltsin’s words do not reflect his personal position, and come from the name of Russia. The Russian president also noted that Russia is alarmed by the fact that these tragic events are being used today by political forces to inflate anti-Russian sentiments.
The following year, too, after a meeting with the Czech President V. Klaus, Vladimir Putin actually confirmed his position. “The Russian Federation is formally the legal successor of the USSR, but modern Russia is a completely different state in essence of its political system. We not only condemn what was negative in the past - I mean the events of 1968 of the year, but also feel the moral responsibility for this, ”Putin said. A little earlier, we note, he spoke sharply about the deployment of elements of the US missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Vladimir Bulgakov, Colonel-General, Candidate of Military Sciences, Hero of Russia, Czechoslovakia 1968, platoon commander, says today: “When there is a question about the deployment of troops into Czechoslovakia, for some reason all charges are brought only to the Soviet leadership, forgetting that that this was a collective decision of the leaders of the states that were part of the Warsaw Pact. In 60-years, the world was bipolar. There were two camps, the arms race continued, the cold war was in full swing. The United States created blocs in all parts of the world, military-political alliances directed against the USSR, in Western Europe they increased their nuclear potential, and active subversive work was carried out to split the socialist bloc. And then the Czech Republic in the center, the country on the verge of a split. How much NATO members wanted to use such a chance! The Soviet Union and other socialist countries had every reason to enter troops. Because it was not only a right, but also an obligation - it is worth raising the points of the Warsaw Pact. ”
Veterans of Operation Danube (1968) are not recognized as combatants.
For many years, it was alleged that during the strategic operation "Danube" there was no fighting. Colonel-General Vladimir Bulgakov says: “At that moment, no proper assessment was given. Camouflaged as international assistance. Confirming then that we were fighting was simply unprofitable, for political reasons: as soon as the troops entered, the UN accused the Union of violating the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia. Communist ideology imposed stereotypes — communism, fraternal peoples, international assistance. ”
In Soviet times, the fulfillment of international duty in Czechoslovakia presented itself to a society like exercises in Czechoslovak territory called the Danube: they were threatened by the "cursed imperialists" armored "fist", and that was the end of the matter.
Gennady Serdyukov, Professor, Head of the Department of Political History at the Faculty of History of the Southern Federal University, considers:
“There has been no serious research on Operation Danube and the events of 1968 of the year. Anything but one thing - the behavior of our soldier who performed his duty to the Motherland ”can be subjected to doubt and rethinking.”
In our military-political history, everything turned out to be exactly the opposite. Thus, during the “perestroika”, M. Gorbachev, speaking of the Czechoslovak events, first gave them the following estimate (1987): “... Some socialist countries experienced serious crises in their development. So it was, for example, in Hungary in the 1956 year, in Czechoslovakia - in the 1968 year ... Each of these crises had its own specifics. Differently from them left. But the objective fact is this: no return to the old order has happened in any of the socialist countries ... Of course, it is not socialism that is to blame for the difficulties and difficulties of developing socialist countries, but mainly the miscalculations of the ruling parties. And, of course, there is here the "merit" of the West, of its constant and persistent attempts to undermine the development of socialist states, to put them on the steps. "
However, at a meeting of the leaders of Bulgaria, Hungary, the GDR, Poland and the Soviet Union, which took place on December 4 1989 in Moscow, a completely different official assessment of the Czechoslovak events was given: the deployment of troops of five ATS states to Czechoslovakia interfered with the internal affairs of a sovereign state to be condemned. Then in Czechoslovakia there was a “velvet revolution” (the next “color”), and the leadership of the socialist countries, including the USSR, collectively repented (before the United States, first of all) of the wrong introduction of the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. This political conclusion at once transformed of all the participants of the Czechoslovak events - from the rank and file to the general - to occupiers, outcasts and in general “democracy suppressors”. And when, finally, the USSR declassified the list of countries where Soviet servicemen took part in “undeclared” wars and armed conflicts and died, Czechoslovakia did not enter there.
General Vladimir Bulgakov, whom we have already quoted, also served as an “international duty” in Afghanistan, has seven military orders. He served in the positions of the Chief of Staff of the North Caucasus Military District, Commander of the Far Eastern Military District, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of the Russian Federation. Agree, with such a record of service, he has the right to say: “If we evaluate the operation from a military point of view, it was brilliant. Look at the mass of troops that were alerted, including allied ones. How well-planned operation and performed in a short time. They simply did not expect. When figured out, they realized that it was too late. The troops had been preparing since May, but not a single intelligence service informed us that we were preparing a battle. As a result, the losses were minimal, for which honor and praise to the commander of the operation. Both geopolitical and military objectives were achieved with minimal losses. Analogue of such an operation was not.
The time has passed, and the situation has changed, and it is objectively long time ago to recognize that these were military operations. Opposition to Soviet troops was.
However, most of the weapons and equipment remained in warehouses, which at the time were captured and blocked by Allied forces. And for this reason alone, the units of the regular Czech army failed to deploy large-scale military operations. ” (I note that the number of the Czechoslovak army in 1968 was about 200 thousand people.)
It is clear why the opinion was rooted in the USSR, and later in Russia, that the operation was completely bloodless. But it was not without loss. According to the commander of 38 Army Lieutenant General AM Mayorov, cited at the 23 meeting in August, seven infantry fighting vehicles were set on fire as a result of incendiary bottles (some burned with crews), and more than 300 vehicles were destroyed and damaged. All in all, from August 21 to October 20, while performing a combat mission, 11 military personnel died, including one officer; injured and injured 87 people, including 19 officers. In addition, killed in accidents, accidents, careless handling of weapons and military equipment, as a result of other accidents, and people died from diseases of 85.
Warsaw Pact troops received an order to open only return fire, and this rule was generally respected. The opinion of the commander of the Alpha group of the KGB of the USSR, Hero of the Soviet Union, retired Major General Gennady Zaitsev (in 1968 he led a group of the 7 of the KGB of the USSR) is significant: “How did you manage to capture not a small European country in the shortest possible time and with minimal losses? The neutral position of the Czechoslovak army (which was neutralized! - V.P.) played a significant role in this course of events. But the main reason for the small number of victims was the behavior of Soviet soldiers, who showed amazing restraint. ”
But there were also situations in which the nerves could pass even among those hardened by the harsh service of people. In one of the military reports of that period, one could read: “The crew of the 64 tank, the MSN 55 honey (foreman of the emergency service Andreev Y.I., junior sergeant Makhot E.N. and private Kazarin P.D.) were organized on the way of the movement a crowd of youth and children. In an effort to avoid casualties from the local population, they made the decision to bypass it, during which the tank overturned. The crew died. " And the matter, as our newspaper later wrote, was so.
The tragedy occurred on the first day of the operation, 21 August. On a narrow mountain road between the cities of Presov and Poprad, a tank column was suddenly blocked by a group of women and children. They were deceived here by extremists who hoped to provoke a bloody incident with large human victims.
In order not to hit people, the mechanic-driver of the head machine had no choice but to steeply turn aside ... The tank fell off a cliff, overturned on the tower and caught fire ... Yuri Andreev, Peter Kazarin, Yevgeny Makhotin were subsequently awarded state awards. But in the place of their death there is not even a small plate that would somehow remind of the feat of the Soviet soldiers. I would add that several thousand Soviet soldiers were awarded military awards, among them only 1000 paratroopers were awarded with military orders and medals.
The news of the dead crew immediately spread through the Soviet troops. In those days, and my mother received a message about my death. The news was unofficial, from an officer who arrived on a business trip, who decided, in this way, to “show off his awareness of what was happening in Czechoslovakia ...” And we didn’t even know him. But mother and father began to wait for the “funeral”.
The missions of officers to the Union were then frequent, and for various reasons. The border was practically open. I was sent on a business trip to someone from my colleagues, and I, taking this opportunity, gave my parents a letter written after my “death”. Everything is clarified. At that time, many “with prosperity” passed on the news to relatives and friends, which, by the way, was strictly forbidden by military censorship. As for me, I got it later, when the "contra" arranged the attack, and I was thrown into the precipice by an explosion. The Tatra Mountains, as it turned out, are very high and steep ... But Mom knew nothing about this for a very long time.
Our mothers didn’t know what was reported in the combat reports. And there was the truth, which is unknown to many today. Here are the lines from some reports of that time, and only from Prague:
"21 August. By 12 hours, paratroopers, overcoming barricades from cars, trams, blocked the KGB, the Ministry of Communications, took under protection the building of the people's bank, the editorial office of the newspaper “Rude Pravo”, an international telephone station. Losses had no division. Only in the exchange of fire during the seizure of the television center two paratroopers were wounded. ”
"25 August. In the second half of the day, anti-Soviet demonstrations were held in certain districts of Prague, and periodic shooting was carried out. ”
"26 August. During the night, a shootout was conducted in a number of places in Prague. The outfit of the 119 th guards paramilitary unit was attacked three times in the 231 Club area. Wounded 2 paratrooper.
"27 August. In Prague, a meeting of the National Assembly. Divisions 7-y Guards. the airborne units guarding the Government House, the building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the Kremlin were relocated to 500 meters from the named facilities. During the period from 21 to 27 in August, the losses of the 7 division were 21 people: private N.I. Biankin, injured 5 officers and 15 soldiers and sergeants. "
For the first time, data about the irretrievable losses in Operation Danube was published by the newspaper Izvestia, 25.02. 1995 d. According to her, the losses were 99 people.
The book "Russia and the USSR in the wars of the twentieth century" indicates the number of 98, and also 87 people of sanitary losses. In the Book of Memory of the TsGV - 98 killed, without two journalists from the APN (the helicopter in which they flew, was fired from the ground with a machine gun, fell and burned). In the collection Czechoslovak Events 1968 of the Year through the Eyes of the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR (2010), the figure in 100 of the dead is given. And the result of the research conducted by Vladislav Sunntsev was the number of losses in 106 people. However, this figure is not final and is in doubt, because the majority of military reports are still classified. In 1968, Mr. V. Suntsev led a detachment to combat counterrevolution and spies; he still collects information about the dead who do not go according to official figures (he lives in Zhytomyr).
An interesting answer came from the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation to the request of the council of veterans of Volgograd (section “Danube-68”, G. Tikhonin). Military archivists, in particular, write (kept unchanged): “In accordance with the order of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation No. 1414 from 04 June 2012, the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in the prescribed manner began to declassify documents for the period 1946 - 1982 years .
In the course of the proposed work, documents of the 20 Tank Division may soon be selected for consideration primarily for possible declassification.
We inform you that in the 20 documents of the tank division there are no books for recording losses of personnel and orders for awarding personnel of the division.
The information of interest is in cases with operational reports, combat reports from the headquarters, reports on the combat and numerical strength of 20, etc. during the period of the Danube exercises.
Dead end! And, apparently, not accidental.
Retired Major General Vitaly Shevchenko, chairman of the Rostov Regional Public Organization Danube-68, says: “... we turned in almost all of the highest echelons of power — to the Federation Council, the State Duma, and the government. Our arguments are that people died or suffered contusions and injuries while fulfilling international duty. They also appealed to the Legislative Assembly of the Rostov Region, in which more than 300 participants of those events live. Deputies of the State Duma made a request to the Ministry of Defense and received a paradoxical response: “Your appeal regarding the assignment of war veterans to those who performed military duty in the republic of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was considered ... The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces does not confirm the fact that military personnel in the Czechoslovakia participated in 1968 year.
Incomprehensible situation. The Soviet troops, according to this version, did not take part in the Czech events, while Army General Nikolai Ogarkov, being the first deputy chief of the General Staff at that time, in Prague led military operations, signed orders for the use of military equipment and personnel and sent combat reports to the Central Committee and the government, and suddenly such an answer.
There is all evidence that our soldiers and soldiers of the Allied armies took part in the hostilities.
The commander of the airborne troops, General V. Margelov, clearly wrote in the report that his subordinates from the 7 and 103 airborne divisions were directly involved in the battles in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Logs of warfare, which are maintained exclusively during the period of fighting, were instituted. For each gun, a tank, the plane was given three ammunition sets, soldiers and officers received a triple standard of ammunition.
But excerpts from the response of the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs G.N. Karelova ombudsman in the Volgograd region V.A. Rostovshchikov (03.07.2012), who decided to help the veterans of his area with the determination of their social status: “... Your appeal to the Chairman of the State Duma S.E. Naryshkin on the issue of assigning to the veterans of combat operations of persons who performed military duty in the Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1968, according to his assignment was reviewed by the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans' Affairs ...
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation does not confirm the fact of the participation of servicemen of the Armed Forces of the USSR in the hostilities in Czechoslovakia in the 1968 year.
Thus, the legislative solution of the question of making additions to the List of States, territories and periods of combat operations with the participation of citizens of the Russian Federation (Appendix to the Federal Law "On Veterans") is possible only if the Russian Defense Ministry confirms the facts of fighting in Czechoslovakia in 1968 year. " (Note: the State Duma only requires facts of hostilities for a legislative resolution of the problem.)
Participants in the Czechoslovak events are ready to provide them. In the archives of such facts, too, probably a lot. However, the Acting Head of the Main Directorate for Work with Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation M. Smyslov informs the ombudsman for the Volgograd Region V.A. Rostovshchikov, stating that “Your appeal to the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation on the issue of amending the Federal Law of January 12 1995 5-ФЗ“ On Veterans ”(hereinafter - the Federal Law) in terms of determining the status of a war veteran to military personnel who took participation in the military-strategic operation "Danube-68" (there was no operation with such a name! - V.P.) in the territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, in the Main Directorate for Work with the Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation ...
Fighting with the participation of Soviet soldiers during the political crisis in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1968 was not conducted in the year, there were only a few military clashes.
The mentioned order of the Minister of Defense of the USSR from 17 in October 1968, No. 242, deals with the fulfillment of international duty by servicemen, and not with their participation in hostilities.
In this regard, there are no grounds for classifying the citizens of the Russian Federation who participated in the military-strategic operation on the territory of Czechoslovakia "Danube-68" to the category of participants in hostilities. "
Let me remind you that in the post-war period, the USSR sent troops into foreign territories three times: in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. All three countries border the USSR, traditionally included in the sphere of interests of Russia / USSR, and as for Hungary and Czechoslovakia, they were, above all, members of the socialist community, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the military-political organization - the Warsaw Pact with the corresponding international status and with all the ensuing responsibilities and consequences.
The United States, I note, only in the second half of the XX century used its troops abroad more than 50 times, and all those who participated in these wars and military conflicts are clearly recognized as war veterans. Lifetime, with appropriate pensions, benefits and regardless of the political situation. America has never condemned its armed intervention in the internal affairs of other states, despite the fact that the American people protested.
In a strategic study conducted by a group of scientists under the general editorship of Doctor of Military Sciences, Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences, Colonel-General G. F. Krivosheev, in Chapter VI, dedicated to the losses of Soviet soldiers in 1946 - 1991, said: "In military conflicts of the postwar period, the participation of Soviet soldiers can be divided into several main areas ...
The third direction of the participation of Soviet soldiers in conflicts abroad is the implementation of the decisions of the highest political leadership of the USSR to preserve the unity of the socialist camp, the inviolability of the Warsaw Pact.
A large number of Soviet military personnel were attracted to participate in these actions, of which more than 800 people. died. "
The authors of the study cite, among other things, such data, which it would not be superfluous to familiarize with those who signed the answers quoted above. It is useful to compare. Our irretrievable losses were, for example, in Algeria (1962 - 1964), 25 people, in the Yemen Arab Republic (1962 - 1963, 1967 - 1969) - 2 people, in Vietnam (1961 - 1974) - 16 people, in Laos (1960 - 1963, 1964 - 1968, 1969 - 1970) - 5 persons, in Angola (1975 - 1979) - 11 persons, in Mozambique (1967 - 1969, 1975 - 1979, 1984 - 1987) This series is long, and by the number of Soviet losses Czechoslovakia occupies one of the first places in it. This is despite the fact that “military operations were not conducted there, but only separate fighting clashes took place”! Where did the casualties come from? And, in general, the opposition of "hostilities" and "hostilities" does not lend itself to any logic.
In 2007, the newspaper Argumenti Nedeli published a note entitled “The General Staff calculated losses”. The beginning of the publication is: “Before Victory Day, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation prepared a report on the irretrievable loss of troops in hostilities from the Soviet period to our days.” Pay attention to the words "about the irretrievable loss of troops in the fighting." Further, the publication says: “Not only money, but also human lives, the Soviet Union paid for international assistance in various parts of the world. For example, during the Korean War (1950-1953), the USSR lost 299 people. Suppressing the uprising in Hungary in 1956 cost 750 Soviet soldiers their lives. The introduction of troops into Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was also not bloodless. During this operation, 96 soldiers and officers of the Soviet Army were killed. 145 Soviet military advisers found their death in Asia and Africa during various conflicts. ” In fact, the General Staff acknowledged that in Czechoslovakia, fighting was conducted. What has changed over the past six years?
Colonel-General Vladimir Bulgakov says bitterly: “The status of war veterans, along with participants in the war in Afghanistan, is received by fighters from all other military conflicts - with the exception of Czechoslovakia. Why? After all, the blood of our soldiers was also shed there. ”
At the same time, in neighboring Ukraine this problem was solved as early as 1994 with the adoption of the law “On the status of war veterans, guarantees of their social protection”, where categories of war veterans are defined, including disabled people, war veterans, combatants to which the status of a combatant applies. In the list of countries where Soviet soldiers participated in hostilities, there is also Czechoslovakia.
And in 2004, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma issued a decree “On the Day of Honoring Participants in Hostilities on the Territory of Other States”. Note that the decree appeared on the basis of the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to include Czechoslovakia (1968 year) in the list of countries where hostilities took place. By this decree, the President of Ukraine almost once again confirmed that the former soldiers and officers who participated in the defense of social conquests in Czechoslovakia in 1968 were given the status of “Participant in hostilities”, “War veteran” and provided benefits under the law of Ukraine “On the status of veterans war, guarantees of their social protection. "
It is very important that these documents legally set the period of hostilities themselves: 20 August 1968 - 1 January 1969. Who served at the time in the Soviet troops on the territory of Czechoslovakia - he is unconditionally recognized in Ukraine as a participant in the hostilities with the appropriate rights and privileges .
Participants in the Czechoslovak 1968 events living in Russia, unlike their fellow soldiers, residents of Ukraine, did not receive any status, although the risk was the same as in all local events of this kind. The paradox is that where death and destruction were widespread (Hungary - 1956, Egypt - 1956, 1967, 1973, Vietnam - 1964-1972, etc.), participants in the events received the status of a combatant. And about the participants in the events in Czechoslovakia, where neither massive irretrievable losses were committed, nor the destruction of infrastructure, did not even remember and do not remember (in any case, those who live in Russia). They were not only not deleted from the list of participants in the hostilities, they were not even going to enter them there. Who is this time for the sake of?
This problem automatically pulls along another intractable problem. Alexander Zasetsky, who was awarded the Order of the Red Star for Operation Danube, writes about her: “I served in Dnepropetrovsk and there I had a certificate of a combatant: in Ukraine, in 1994, a law was passed that recognized us as veterans. In 2003, for family reasons, he moved here to Russia. And now here I am not a participant in military operations - because soldiers who fought in Czechoslovakia did not enter the Russian law on veterans. But I am the same person. And the events in 1968 were the same. How so?"
There are many similar stories. And the matter here is not so much in the benefits, as in the restoration of justice in relation to the former Soviet military personnel. The international strategic operation Danube, which prevented destabilization in Central Europe, played a crucial role in preserving regional and global security. Its participants living in Russia deserve the right to be called internationalist warriors.
By the way, legal conflicts in which A. Zasetsky and many other veterans who came from Ukraine found themselves could not be if the social protection agencies of the Russian Ministry of Defense fulfilled the international agreements signed within the CIS on the unconditional legalization of all pension documents. Russia ignores them.
And yet: we have Gazprom, a national treasure, which in Ukraine is not and is not expected.
But for now, our veteran organizations are borrowing memorable medals made in Ukraine for the 45 anniversary of the entry of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia ...
It's a shame, gentlemen, oh, how embarrassing!
More recently, at the initiative of the former participants of the 1968 events in Czechoslovakia in the Rostov region, a regional public organization of soldiers-internationalists (as they call themselves illegally!) "Danube-68", which has about 300 people, was established. All over 60 years or more, but dared to stand up for defense ... No, not the homeland - they have long fulfilled their duty. Finally, they decided to try to protect their rights. Similar organizations were created in the Volgograd Region, Tatarstan, Dagestan, Stavropol Territory, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ulyanovsk, Voronezh ... The movement of veterans of the Czechoslovak events 1968 was gaining momentum. Is there enough time and energy for the veterans themselves?
Today, I am confident that, under the words of Colonel-General Vladimir Bulgakov, "We defended our own national interests" will be signed by each participant in the military events of those distant years.