Final Word from Wednesday, August 7, 2019

U.S. foreign-policy expert Charles Gati wrote in a report in April 1990 that there weren't any overt signs of increased Soviet concern about the Czechoslovak leadership until the summer and early fall of 1989. One of the first signs, he wrote, was an interview in Izvestia on Aug. 7, 1989, by the Communist Party Central Committee member in charge of the StB, Rudolf Hegenbart. In the article, Hegenbart made the case for perestroika in Czechoslovakia and said that the hardest part would be to "get the people on our side." Once the democratization process began and deep economic reforms were started, he said, people would be able to show their worth. Then, he said, a "rotation of personnel" would be possible. Whether the KGB (for whom Gati assumed Hegenbart was working) meant rotating out Miloš Jakeš and installing Hegenbart isn't clear (he had a heart attack). What is clear is that the rotation of personnel the KGB did get was Václav Havel for Gustáv Husák. [ Czech Repubic general secretary president security politburo ]

Glossary of difficult words

overt - done or shown openly; plainly apparent;

Miloš Jakeš - general secretary of the Communist Party until Nov. 24, 1989;

Gustáv Husák - Czechoslovak president until Dec. 10, 1989.


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