Mocenská vertikála a nálady v československé společnosti v padesátých letech 20. století. Pohled sovětských diplomatů v Praze
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The Power Vertical and the Atmosphere in Czechoslovak Society in the 1950s, as seen by Soviet Diplomats in Prague
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This article was written using records from central Russian archives. It was first published in Russian in a collection of essays by the author (Galina Pavlovna Murashko, ‘Vlastnaia vertikal i evolutsiia umonastroienii v Chekhoslovakii v 50-yegody XX v.: Po dokumentam rossiiskikh arkhivov’, in idem, Izbrannoie. Ed. T. V. Volokitina, A. N. Kanarskaya, and M. I. Lenshina. Moscow: Institut Slavyanovedeniia Rossiiskoi akademii nauk, 2011, pp. 230–64). She has used diplomatic dispatches, in which officials of the Soviet Embassy in Prague and the consulate general in Bratislava reported to Moscow on the situation in Czechoslovakia and the Czechoslovak Communist Party. These sources allow the author – from this perspective – to note the changes in position in the senior Party posts and to trace the changes in mood in various strata of Czech and Slovak society, especially amongst artists, scholars, scientists, students, and civil servants, and their reaction to the decisions of the government and the Party leadership. No less important is that the analysed documents also reveal the lens through which Soviet diplomats and others working in the country perceived the Czechoslovak situation, and they thus provide insight into the formation of Kremlin policy regarding Prague in the 1950s. From this standpoint, the author considers phenomena such as the activity of Soviet advisers in Czechoslovakia, popular unrest after the announcement of the currency reform in 1953, factory strikes, the general population’s reactions to the economic and social measures adopted as part of the ‘new course’ in 1954, the formation of opposition attitudes after the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in 1956, responses to the subsequent social unrest in Poland and Hungary, changes in the leadership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party after the death of Antonin Zapotocky (1884–1957), and the critical reaction of the public to the reorganization of the running of the economy and to the mass ‘vetting for political and class reliability’ in the civil service after Antonin Novotny became President of Czechoslovakia in 1957. The author concludes that Moscow had enough information about developments in Czechoslovakia, and strikingly influenced decision-making at the top of Czechoslovak politics in the 1950s.
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