In 1969, a few short months after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Sergei I. Prasolov, advisor to the Soviet Ambassador in Prague, informed František Šorm, President of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, at a formal meeting that he welcomed Šorm’s suggestion to intensify scientific exchange between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. Šorm politely declined this offer. Behind the veneer of diplomatic courtesy on the part of both actors, a real drama was taking place. Šorm and the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences had actually never formulated such a request. To the contrary, since the late 1950s the academy had repeatedly pointed out that the Soviets were incapable of coordinating scientific activities in the Eastern Bloc. The Soviet system of academic cooperation within the Eastern Bloc had already begun to collapse after the Geneva Summit of 1955, where the Soviets opened the door to international collaboration across the Iron Curtain. Yet it was only in the late 1960s that the Soviets realized that while they dominated large-scale international collaboration, they had lost control of internal developments within the Eastern Bloc.

Doubravka Olšáková

02 December 2020
A Matter of Courtesy: The Role of Soviet Diplomacy and Soviet “System Safeguards” in Maintaining Soviet Influence on Czechoslovak Science before and after 1968