Created: 1/12/1968

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Czechoslovakia:ew Direction



cbstral tellioence aoehcy office of national estimates


special MEMQl'.AittUM8

gimjKTTr Czechoplovakla: ADirection"


The demotion of Czechoslovakia'e Party First Becrotary, Antonln Bovotny, after lit years In his post, signifies aerohange of personalities. uropean Communist state is becoming less Cccmunlst snd more European, and neither tbe pace cor the goals of the transition are likely to pleocc Moscow. The forces which succeeded In removing Itovotnypresumably against the dcelrea of the Sovietsare now beginning to place emphasis not only on

This memorandum vas produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of national Estimates and coordinated vlth the Office of Current Intelligence.


economic reforms but political reforna aa well. The latter will pertain mainly to domestic affairsthe reduction of arbitrary party authoritybut also, inevitably, to foreign affalro. The new forces In Prague are concerned with internal political pluralism, as are the Jugoslavs, and with national sovereignty, as are the Romanians.

-Jut WW

m sragiQH Dipnoi

reformist views, nevertheless, Dubceh earned seme stature among liberals during his four years In charge of the Slovak party. It was 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 Hovotny 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 someears residence and study in the USSR, mostlyoung man, Dubcek does not strike us as being Moscow's man in Prague. Dubcek's speech at the Czechoslovak Central Committee plenum last September alluded not at all to the experience of the Soviet comrades, and the terminology he used was more reminiscent of Halt Rostov than of Marx or Lenin. Dubcek's above mentioned attack on Hovotny preceded, not followed Brezhnev's trip to Prague. lausible story now circulating acong Czechoslovak party members has it that Dubcek was among

- k

Changea at the Top

anuary,old Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary of the snei-autonomous Slovak party organization,year old Antonln Hovotny aa First Secretary of the entire Czechoslovak Party, rour full members vere added to the Party Presidium raising tho total in that bodyull membersandidates. The Central Committee meeting which effected these changes was the fourth meeting sinceThe Presidium Itself had been In almost dally session since the 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 see, Inter alia, if the Czech political wines 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 Dot have been the leader of the coalition in the Presidium; one of the names which had more frequently been mentioned as likely successor to Hovotny was planning chief Oldrlchzech with

several Presidium members vho told Brezhnev to keep out of Czechoslovak Internal nattero. ractical politician Dubcek probably realltea thatroblems and Mb own prospects are not going to be settled in the USSR but at home. Finally, residence io the USSR Is no guarantee of permanent loyalty to the USSRj Imre Nsgy spent abouteara in Hoocov.

The Revisionist Drift

k. It seems to us that the comings and goinga of varlouo persons, hovever Interesting In themselves, are not what It le really all about In Czechoslovakia. One of the main reasons cited by the Czechoslovak press foranuary changes weo the need for the "democratization" of Chechoslovakia's political system. This Is morahetorical flourish. We are not suggesting that there Is no longer any debate in Czechoslovakia concerning "economic. the transitionommand economyarket economy. Improved quality of goods (especially consumers'ocial welfare, and so forth. But the Itovotny regime had officially endorsed most of these "economicnd still Novotny was renoved. The Important point is that there appears torowing coneensue among moot articulate elements In the country that economic reforms must be accompanied


B mnnrt

by basic political reforms as veil. Tbeae elements argue that tho political Byitem must be radically changedliberalized" In the term many Yugoslav observers prefer, "revisioolzed" may be vhat Brezhnev muttered to himself on the way home from Prague.

5. Whatever ita label, the process has been slowly gathering ncoentum since thes, when Hovotny belatedly permitted the de-Stallnlzetlon demanded from below. Since that time, Hovotny 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 accommodation with the latter. 5riters In the party and cultural press 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 Klynar, 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 the argument that the party should withdrew from the dally management of affairs and relinquish some of itspower to "autonomous" institutions. workers' councils,

-sail rrnnrm rnnoni

nationality groups, trade unions). But he vent beyond the Yugoslavs to urgeulti-party system be instituted In the Czechoslovak national Assembly, and several other Czech and Slovak writers have publicly echoed Lakatos 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 Moo and companyas the Soviets usually have doneut to basic defects in the partyolitical institution. They bave 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 Ludvlk Vacullk at the Writers' Congress last June. Be praised the "high level of (teraoeraey" achieved by the pre-World War II republic under Maaaryk

and contrasted It with Communist rule:

"It ia neceaeary to understand that no human problem has been solved in our country foryearsstarting 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 old days, of course, ludvik Taculik night have been shot; this time he and his companions merely lost their party membership cards, which apparently they did not value highly anyway. They probably received such gingerly treatment because the party itself was divided, both on the tactics to bo used against people like Ludvik Vaculii, and indeed on the merits of their protest.

9. Besides the intellectuals' protest, the restive students have played an Indirect role in the Czechoslovak transition. Open manifestations of student unrest are not rare in Eastern Europe, end 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,

- 8

arty Central Ccemittee member and unlverolty official tell them to be patient because 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 Hovotny's high cards in dealing with student unrest on previous occasions had bean the failure of the students to arouse the sympathy of the workers. This 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. The expansion of the Party Presidium formo Ih- full members was apparently to solidify the liberal majority {including the Slovaks). Further changes in the top echelons of the party snd government are in prospect. There are still plenty of antl-liberalo around, but for the moment they are on the defensive. Their representatives in the Presidium, such aa Jlrl Hendrych,


are likely to be demoted. In addition. Premieriberal Slovak, may be replaced in that poat by nomeone euch aa the previously mentioned Oldrich Cernik, in order toationality balance. There could also be significant changes in the Ministry of the Interior, which wee publicly attackedandidate member of the Presidium last September. The reasons cited for the attackinefficient 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 bis full membership In the Presidium for the time being. As long as he does not work against Dubcek, he is unlikely to become an unperaon like his friend Khrushchev, probably because the Czechoslovaks wish to show that they con handle problems of this nature with more dignity than the Soviets.

11. Judging by the extensive and favorable coverage given Czechoslovak developments in the Yugoslav press the Yugoslavs expect the Czechs to become something like themselves. They also expect that the changes in Czechoslovakia will stir similar impulses In other parts of Europe.


thereimilarity between what la happeningend Romania, what has happened in Yugoslavia,may happen elsewhere. It may be thatfreed fromImportunityll 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.

Czechoslovak-Soviet Relations

the new liberalization In Czechoslovakia emergesa new facet of it is revealed: its oppositiondomination of Prague's foreign policy. The Middleproduced widespread dissatisfaction within all segmentspartly because of sympathy for Israel. theand writer Kaacko who defected to Israelandso much of that Czechoslovak foreign aid extendedof Moscow's interests seemed to have gone to waste,Moscow expected Prague to do more. Even Novotoy himself


nn rrfigrrn

evidently went to Moecov lest summer to plead' that Czechoslovakia's share of aid to the Arab states be cut. Indeed it appears that most of the people who count in Prague have begun to have serious doubts about the wiBdom of Czechoslovakia's material support for Moscow's clients throughout the world.

1*. Over the peatew attitude in Prague toward West Germany and the Warsaw Pact has become manifest. It now appearsajority of the Czechoslovak Party Is unhappy with Moscow's attitude 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 economicthe advantages Romania has reaped orend 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 are some interesting Btraws in the wind. Lastournal of the Socialist Academy

t D1 T

in Prague questioned whether Soviet efforts to promote further integration within the Pact were compatible with the prerogatives of "sovereign" governoenta. More recently another segment of the press cited public sentiment favoring Czechoslovakia's emulation of the neutral policies of Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria. Prague Xomcstlc Radio offered itsengthy and Implicitly favorablo exposition of Romania's Independent policies, including its opecial relationship to the Warsaw Pact.

16. 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 Solzhenlteyn against literary censorship was not read at the Soviet Writers' Congrese last May, but it van readelegate to the Czechoslovak Writers' Congress the following month, and Solzhenltsyn himself woo interviewed by Czechoslovak Journalists. The principal Czech literary Journal Is publishing excerpts from Svetlana's book. One of the last acta of the Jtovotny regime was to decree, as Romania did inhat students ore no longer obliged to study Russian.


17* The Soviets, for their pert, are likely to see in the changes inotential for serious trouble, either 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 thle, will probably avoid moves which might provoke the Soviets into precipitous actions. In any event, there are Inhibitions on the USSR's use of crude pressurese.g. 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 the lack of cuecese of their offorts to arrest similar developments. in Romania.


Yrs (CI


_.HB FPoc"If'"'

Original document.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: