They preserved the post-WW2 order which kept the peace for 45 years
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia…
On August 5th 2018, after a death of three Czech servicemen in Afghanistan as a result of the attack of a suicide bomber, the Chief of the General Staff of the Czechoslovakia Armed Forces General Aleš Opata declared the intention of the Czech intelligence agencies to find and punish the organisers of the attack: “The Czech army will exact revenge for the death of three of their servicemen … We won’t allow anyone to kill Czech military personnel and go unpunished …”. The anger of the general is clear – if to remember that during the participation of the Czech Republic in the Afghan war on the side of the US/NATO, 13 Czech soldiers already found death in Afghanistan. However, let’s remember other things too…
August 21st marked fifty years since the start of the strategic operation “Danube” – the introduction of the troops of five Warsaw Treaty Organisation member states (the USSR, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, and Bulgaria) in Czechoslovakia to quell disorder and acts of violence in relation to representatives of the state authorities.
As a result of this operation being carried out, it was succeeded not to allow the post-war world order to be revised and to preserve the membership of Czechoslovakia in the East European socialist bloc. A treaty was signed concerning the conditions of the temporary stay of the Soviet troops on the territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and the Soviet group remained in Czechoslovakia up to 1991. This was the largest army operation in Europe after the end of World War II – with the participation of 500,000 military personnel with 6,300 tanks and 800 planes.
Against the background of persons in the Czechoslovak government being replaced, the opposition forces inside the political leadership of the country, under the pretext of creating“socialism with a human face”, launched a campaign to discredit the top officials of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the socialist camp in general. Appeals to improve relations with Western Germany, divide the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, restore the Slovak Greco-catholic church – which in 1950 divorced with the uniate and returned to Orthodoxy, etc – sounded from the lips of the supporters of the “Prague spring”.
So-called political clubs (propaganda cells) were created from elements that were anti-Soviet. Both criminals and persons suspected of cooperating with NATO intelligence agencies found their place in it. Later, stored weapons and munitions of western production will be found in the headquarters of these clubs.
The ideologeme of the “Prague spring” was, in fact, the ideological cover of the attempt to revise the post-war world order, which began in 1956 in Hungary. The participant of those events Lieutenant-Colonel Vladislav Pavlovich Suntsev said: “For… NATO it was tempting to pull the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic out of the socialist commonwealth, to receive through its territory a corridor to the border of the USSR … and to split the countries of the Warsaw pact into two isolated regions … The troops of West Germany were concentrated near the western borders of Czechoslovak Socialist Republic under the guise of military exercises. In order to introduce NATO troops in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic it was enough for at least one radio station from the territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to request help. In this situation a cold war could turn into a hot one at any moment … In 1968 we prevented the third world war”.
Several months prior to the mentioned military exercises, the middle command structure of the 2nd corps of the West German army visited Czechoslovakia under the guise of tourists, studying invasion routes. (The interest of Germans in Czechoslovakia is traditional: as the former adviser to the president E. Beneš, Prokop Drtina, noted in 1947 – Czechoslovakia lies “not between the West and the East, but between Germany and the Soviet Union”).
The minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the supporter of rapprochement with NATO Josef Pavel stopped to cooperate with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB of the USSR, opened the border with West Germany, removed the border barriers, started the persecution of supporters of Moscow from among the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the security service (some of them committed suicide, not being able to live with the pressure), and established the softest regime concerning agents of the western intelligence agencies. The military radio station broadcasting from the territory of West Germany to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic incited Czechoslovaks to riot. Also, underground radio stations in Czechoslovakia that were established in advance also broadcasted. These radio stations were then found during searches in the apartments and at the work places of“peaceful protesters”. Anti-Soviet actions in Czechoslovakia weren’t a manifestation of spontaneous discontent.
On August 24th, near the city of Teplice, “peaceful supporters of reforms” downed a Soviet helicopter using a machine gun. The pilots received wounds, two passengers – Soviet journalists – died. On August 26th a Soviet An-12 carrying cargo was downed, and the five crew members were killed. In Prague Soviet soldiers were shot at by passing cars.
An eloquent case happened in Košice. Furious “supporters of peaceful reforms” stripped the 48-year-old Valentina Belas naked and herded her along the city streets. She was the Russian wife of an officer of the Czechoslovak intelligence agencies. She saw on the wall an anti-Soviet poster with the addresses of employees, including her own address, and tore it down, fearing for the life of her two children. She started to speak emotionally in Russian to the youngsters who ran up to her, and this was enough.
There were also other provocations in the process: parking empty baby carriages in the path of a tank column; shooting from the crowd at the patrol in order to provoke return fire; placing around the city civilians who had been “wounded” by Soviet soldiers, whose wounds had been drawn on in red paint; and so on. And nearby there were photographers who were especially invited for this purpose, who took the “correct” photos, which afterwards were published in western newspapers.
The notorious “Prague spring” was in reality an attempt to punch a hole in the defenses of the countries of the Warsaw pact for the purpose of quickly entering NATO troops, which would mean the achievement by the West of a manpower advantage in the Eastern direction and further expansion to the East. It was an attempt to provoke a geopolitical split in Europe for the purpose of radically revising the results of World War II.
Years later I happened to see in Prague the advertising poster of a museum exposition devoted to the events of 1968 with images of characters in Soviet military uniforms and faces contorted by anger. This is how western agitprop depicted Soviet military personnel in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. And nothing was said about the feat of the starshina Andreyev, who turned his tank towards a cliff in order to not run over the protesters who ran out onto the road. Nothing was said about another tank crew that was set on fire by Czechoslovaks when Soviet tankmen spent their time persuading protesters to leave far away from the burning military vehicle.
The fact that the Soviet army had no plans to suffocate the Czechoslovak people is evidenced by the identical number of losses from among the opposition mutineers and the military personnel of the countries of the Warsaw pact – 108 people respectively. The USSR lost 95 servicemen; Poland – 10; East Germany, Bulgaria, and Hungary – 1 person respectively.
And now the Czech Republic and Slovakia are NATO member states. Americans nourish the idea of deploying in the Czech Republic elements of the US’ missile defense system – which poses a threat to Russia, and Czech and Slovak soldiers die in Afghanistan for the US’ interests.
Today understanding gradually arrives concerning the fact that the introduction of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia on the night of August 21st, 1968 “didn’t allow the West to carry out a right-wing liberal coup in Czechoslovakia based on the technology of implementing ‘velvet’ revolutions, and kept peace and harmony for more than 20 years in our Motherland and for all the people of the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation”.
Source: Fond Strategicheskoi Kulturi