CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES
SUBJECT: Czechoslovakia; ev Direction-
The demotion ofarty First Secretary, Antoai: Novotny, after lh years in his post, signifies morehange of personalities. uropean Conznunlst state le becoming less CccBEuniBt and more European, and neither tbe pace nor the goals of the transition are likely to please Moscow. The forces which succeeded in relieving Novotnyprceuoably against the desires of the Sovietsre now beginning to place ecphaois not only on
* This memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of National Estimates and coordinated with tbe Office of Current Intelligence.
economic reforms but political reforce as well. The latter will pertain mainly to domestic affairbthe reduction of arbitrary party authoritybut also, inevitably, to foreign affaire. The new forces in Prague are concerned with internal political plural 1ao are the Yugoolave, and with national sovereignty, as ore the Romanians.
year old Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary ofd-autoncoou8 Slovak party organization,year old Antonln Novotny as Firat Secretary of the entire Czechoslovak Party. Four full members were added to the Party Preaidiun raising the total in that body to Ik full membersandidates. The Central Conmlttee meeting which effected these changec was the fourth meeting sinceThe Presidium itself had been la almost daily session since tlie beginning of December. Certain Czechoslovak armed forces reservists had apparently been alerted for several days in connection with the crisis, and Soviet Party Chief Brezhnev had invited himself to Prague in early December to sec, inter alia, if the Czech political wineB were vintage
The election of Dubcek to lead the entire party seems to be the latest, but not the last,eries of bids for poweroalition representing Slovak regional interests and the more generally liberal elements in the party. Dubcek may not have been the leader of the coalition in the Presidium; one of the names which had more frequently been mentioned as likely successor to Novotny was planning chief Oldrichzech with
reformist views. Nevertheless, Dubcek earned some stature among liberals during his four years in charge of the Slovak party. It vas relatively easy for liberal writers who had difficulty with the censors in Prague to have their articles published in Bratislava. Moreover, Dubcekarticularly active role in the last few months in spearheading demands for change. We have fairly reliable information thatecember Dubcek criticized Novotny before the Central Committee for being "unable to solveoted his age and deteriorating health, and recommended that he give up his main party post and retain the rather ceremonial office of the presidencythe recommendation finally adopted.
3. Despite someear6 residence and study in the USSR, mostlyoung man, Dubcek does not strike us as being Moscow's man in Prague. Cubcek's speech at the Czechoslovak Central Committee plenum last September alluded not ot all to the experience of the Soviet comrades, and the terminology he used was more reminiscent of Walt Rostov than of Marx or Lenin.bove mentioned attack on Novotny preceded, not followed, Brezhnev's trip to Prague. lausible story now circulating among Czechoslovak party members has it that Dubcek was among
several Presidium members vho told Brezhnev to keep out of Czechoslovak Internal matter-. ractical politician Dubcek probably realizes that Czechoslovakia's problems and his own prospects are not going to be settled in the USSH but at home. Finally, residence in the USSR Is no guarantee of permanent loyalty to the USSR; lore Nagy spent aboutears in Moscow.
The Revisionist Drift
k. It seems to us that the comings and goings of various persons, however interesting In themselves, arc not what it la really ell about in Czechoslovakia. One of tbe main reasons cited by the Czechoslovak press foranuary changes was the need for the "democratization" ofolitical system. This is morehetorical flourish. Ue arc not BuggeRting that there is no longer any debate in Czechoslovakia concerning "economic reforms". the transitionommand economyarket economy, improved quality of goods (especially eoncuaera'ocial welfare, and so forth. But the Novotny regime had officially endorsed most of these "economicnd still Novotny was removed. The important point ia tbat there appears torowing consensus among most articulate elements in the country that economic reforms must be accompanied
by basic political reforms as veil. These elementa argue that the political system must be radically changedliberalized" in the term many Yugoslav observers prefer, "rcvisionized" may be vhat Brezhnev muttered to himself on the way home from Prague.
5. Whatever its label, the proceas has been slowly gathering, momentum since tbes, when Novotny belatedly permitted the de-Stalinization demanded from below, since that time, Kovotny has been fighting both the dogmatists and the liberals, but It is the former who have grown weaker, and Novotny has moved by fits and starts towards accomtoodation with tbe latter. 5riters in the party and cultural preBS focused on the tension between the individual and the government, the absence of real representative institutions, the lack of public influence on policy, and the abuse of rule by dogmatic politicians. Many of these writers held influential positions, such as Zdenek Mlynar, Secretary of the Legal Commission of the Party Central Committee, and Michelegal scholar attached to the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Lakatos, for example, borrowed from Yugoslav theorists tbe argument that tbe party should withdraw from the daily management of affairs and relinquish some of itspower to "autonomous" institutions. workers'
nationality groups, trade unions). But ce vent beyond tbe Yugoslavs to urgeulti-party system be instituted in tbe Czechoslovak National Assembly, and several other Czech and Slovak writers have publicly echoed Xakatos on this point.
During the past two years the liberals have become bolder, and their terms of argument more explicitly political. Among the less obvious conditions facilitating this process have been the excesses of the Chinese cultural revolution, which have caused greater revulsion in Czechoslovakia, both in and out of the party, than elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Writers in the Slovak press, for example, have attributed these excesses not Just to Mao and companys the Soviets usually have donebut to basic defects in the partyolitical institution. They have argued that similar deformations can be barred from Czechoslovakia only through democratization of society and government.
Probably the most extreme statement of political dissent was expressed by writer and party member Ludvik Vaculik at the Writers' Congress last June. He praised the "high level of democracy" achieved by the pre-World War II republic under Masnryk,
and contraoted it with Communist rule;
"It ia necessary to understand that no human problem has been solved in our country forearsstarting with the elementary needs, such aa housing, schools and prosperity, and ending with the more refined requirements which cannot be satisfied by the undemocratic systems of the world. For instance, the feeling of full value in society. The subordination of political decisions to ethical criteria. The belief in the value of even small-scale labor, the need for confidence among men, the development of the education of the entire"
n the good oldf course, ludvik Vacullk might have been shot; this time be and his companions merely lost their party membership cords, which apparently they did not value highly anyway. They probably received such gingerly treatment because tbe party itself was divided, both on the tactics to be used against people like Ludvik Vaculik, and Indeed on the merits of their protest.
9- Besides the Intellectuals' protest, the restive students have ployed an indirect role in the Czechoslovak transition. Open manifestations of student unrest are not rare In Eastern Europe, and the overtones are usually political. But only inwe suspect, could university students repeatedly stage sit-in demonstrations against the regime as they did last fall.
arty Central Canalttec member and university official tell thea to be patient becauoc an "Irreversible democratization" was taking place in their country, and then read the party youth newspaper's condemnation of the "police brutality" of the uniformed men who dispersed them. Moreover, one of Novotny's high cards in dealing with student unrest on previous occasions had been the failure of tbe students to arouse the sympathy of the workers. Thia time, however, the trade union newspaper echoed the party youth newspaper's exoneration of the students, and then added that the episode demonstrated the need for establishing regular channels for expressing dissent and obtaining redress of grievances on all important areas. workers' Interests). At that point Hovotny may well have realized he was in serious trouble.
Internal Changes Ahead
10. Tho expansion of the Party Presidium formo lU full members was apparently to solidify tbe liberal majority (including the Slovaks). Further changes In the top echelons of the party and government are in prospect. There are still plenty of anti-liberals around, but for the mosent they are cn tbe defensive. Their representatives in the Presidium, such ae Jlri Hendrych,
are likely to be denoted. In addition. Premieriberal Slovak, may be replaced ln that post by someone ouch ae the previously mentioned Oldricb Cernlk, in order toationality balance. There could also be significant changes in the Ministry of the Interior, which wan publicly attackedandidate member of the Presidium last September. The reasons cited for the attacknefficient operation of the Ministry's buildings and grounds in Pragueare so trifling as to suggest the beginningsore serious campaign against the Ministry and against its subordinate organization, the secret policeovotny will apparently retain the ceremonial title of President and his full membership in the Presidium for the time being. Aa long as he does not work against XXibcek, he is unlikely to become an unperson like his friend Khrushchev, probably because the Czechoslovaks wish to show that they can handle problems of this nature with more dignity than the Soviets.
11. Judging by the extensive and favorable coverage given Czechoslovak developments in the Yugoelav press the Yugoslavs expect the Czechs to become something like themselves. They also expect that the changes ln Czechoslovakia will stir similar Impuleeo ln other parto of Europe.
thereimilarity between what is happeningand Romania, what has happened in Yugoslavia,may happen elsewhere, it may be thatreed fromimportunityall are reasserting theirof political behavior. In the case ofpatterns are more Western and democratic than elsewhereEurope, and the Czechs may ultimately thereforethan the Yugoslavs or anyone else in Easternpolitical democracy. Also in Czech fashion, however,probably move cautiously lest the transitionSoviet reprisals.
the new liberalization in Czechoslovakia emergesa new facet of it ls revealed; its oppositiondomination of PTegue'e foreign policy. The Middleproduced widespread dissatisfaction within all segmentspartly because of sympathy for Israel . theand writer Mnacko who defected to Israelndbo much of that Czechoslovak foreign aid extendedof Moscow's interests seemed to have gone to waste,Moscow expected Prague to do more. Even Novotny himself
evidently vent to Moscow last sunnier to plead tbat Czechoslovakia's share oi* aid to tbe Arab states be cut. Indeed it appears that most of the people who count in Prague have begun to have serious doubts about the wisdom of Czechoslovakia's material support for Moscow's clients throughout the world.
I'i. Over the postew attitude in Prague towardermany and the Warsaw Pact has become manifest. It now appearsajority of the Czechoslovak Party is unhappy withttitude toward Eastern European diplomatic recognition of West Germany and that this majority favors recognition without major preconditiona situation which distinguishes the Czechoslovaks from their Polish counterparts. The attraction toward Bonn is partly economiche advantages Romania has reaped are evidentand partly political and psychological; Czechs like to remind foreign visitors these days that Pragueundred miles west of Vienna.
15. ital element in the northern tier of the Warsaw Pact, seems unlikely to duplicate Romania's defiance of the Pact at this point. But there arc some interesting straws in the wind, lastournal of the Socialist Academy
In Prague questioned whether Soviet erforts to promote further integration within the Pact were compatible with the prerogatives of "sovereign" governments. Mere recently another segment of tha press cited public sentiment favoring Czechoslovakia's emulation of the neutral policies of Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria, Prague Domestic Radio offered itsengthy and implicitly favorable exposition of Romania's independent policies, including its special relationship to the Warsaw Pact.
lo. And there are now the little irritants in Czechoslovak-Soviet relations that Prague formerly took care to prevent. The eloquent protest by Russian writer Alexander Solzhenltsyn sgolnot literary censorship was not reed at the Soviet Writers' Congress last May, but it was readelegate to the Czechoslovak Writers' Congress the following month, and Solzhenltsyn himself was interviewed by Czechoslovak Journalists. The principal Czech literary Journal is publishing excerpts from Svetlana's book. One of the last acts of the Novotny regime was to decree, as Romania did inhat students ore no longer obliged to study Russian.
17. The Soviets, for their part, ere likely to see la the changes inotential for serious trouble, eitber political instability in Prague or growing Czech resistance to Moscow's leadership, or both. But the Soviets will probably not move to apply heavy pressures unless or until the situation in Czechoslovakia clearly threatens their Interests. The Czechs, aware of this, will probably avoid moves which might provoke tha Soviets into precipitous actions. In any event, there are inhibitions on the USSR's use of crude pressures . Moscow's concern over its own image In Western Europend there are likely to be limits on the effectiveness of any political and economic levers the Soviets might seek torobability attested to by tbe lack of success of their efforts to arrest similar developments. in Romania.
FOR THE BOARD OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES:
ABBOT SMITH Chairman
- It -Original document.