Appeal by Grigorenko and Yakhimovich, 23 February 1969 (6.11)

«No 6 : 28 February 1969»

We consider it essential to end this issue of the Chronicle with the following document:


28 February 1969

The series of self-immolations, begun on 16 January 1969 by the Prague student Jan Palach in protest against the interference in the internal affairs of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, continues. Yet another (for the time being, the last) human torch burst into flames in Wenceslas Square in Prague on 21 February.

This protest, taking such a terrible form, is aimed above all at us, THE SOVIET PEOPLE. It is the unasked-for and in no way justified presence of OUR armies which causes such anger and despair among the Czechoslovak people. It is not for nothing that the death of Jan Palach has stirred the entire working population of Czechoslovakia.

WE all carry our share of the blame for his loss, as for that of our other Czechoslovak brothers who have committed suicide. By our approval of the intervention of our armies, by our justification of it, or simply by our silence, we are helping to ensure that human torches will continue to burn in the squares of Prague and other cities.

The Czechs and Slovaks have always considered us their brothers. Can we really allow the word ‘Soviet’ to become for them a synonym for the word ‘enemy’?!

Citizens of our great country!

The greatness of a country lies not in the might of its armies brought down upon a small freedom-loving people but in its MORAL strength.

Can we really go on watching in silence as our brothers perish?!

By now it is already clear to all that the presence of our armies on the territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is serving neither the defence interests of our motherland nor the interests of the countries of the socialist commonwealth.

Do we really not have the courage to admit that we have made a tragic mistake and to do everything in our power to correct it?

That is our right and our duty!

We call upon all Soviet people who do not approve of this rash and hasty act [1] to use all legal means to achieve the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia and a renunciation of interference in that country’s internal affairs! Only in this way can the friendship between our peoples be renewed.

Long live the heroic Czechoslovak people! Long live Soviet-Czechoslovak friendship!

Pyotr Grigorenko

Ivan Yakhimovich

23 February 1969

Major-General Petro Grigorenko (1907-1987)

Ivan Yakhimovich (1931-2014)