Commentary No 3 (August 1968)

<<No 3 : 30 August 1968>>


[1] “In fact, Czechoslovak newspapers remained on sale up until 21 August,” wrote the Chronicle, over two years later (CCE 18.14). “Their ‘disappearance’ can only be explained by an increased demand for the same number of copies available.”

(28 August 1968)

[1] Both The Times (London) and The New York Times published the text of the letter in their news pages on 29 August.

[2] Gorbanevskaya describes four slogans on the banners unfurled by the eight Red Square demonstrators: LONG LIVE FREE AND INDEPENDENT CZECHOSLOVAKIA (written in Czech), SHAME ON THE OCCUPIERS, HANDS OFF CZECHOSLOVAKIA, and FOR YOUR FREEDOM AND OURS. In Red Square at Noon she corrected the second slogan (it actually read DOWN WITH THE OCCUPIERS), and added a fifth slogan which read FREEDOM FOR DUBCEK.

The fourth slogan, FOR YOUR FREEDOM AND FOR OURS, is Polish in origin and has a long and interesting history. On 15 March 2014 it was prominently displayed (in Russian and Ukrainian) behind speakers at the march and rally in Moscow protesting against the annexation of Crimea [JC.]

[3] In her book Gorbanevskaya suggests that these men were, on reflection, more likely to have belonged to the KGB teams which constantly followed Litvinov and his friends wherever they went.

[4] The demonstration of 22 January 1967 on Pushkin Square marked a year since  the conviction of Sinyavsky and Daniel in January 1966. The participants were protesting against the recently introduced Article 190-3 and again called for open trials. For their unrepentant participation Bukovsky and Khaustov were sent to the camps, CCE 2.8, [JC.]

[5] “Torrents of barefaced lies” — for example, the Soviet press reports that the troops giving ‘fraternal assistance’ were being welcomed with flowers by the Czechoslovaks.


[1] In 1966-1968 Lev Kvachevsky and his friend Yury Gendler belonged to an informal circle which, among other things, became concerned about the trials of the Social Christians (CCE 1.6). The group also joined in the Moscow campaign against the Galanskov-Ginzburg trial.