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Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 86: Protocol No. 166 of CC CPSU Politburo Session, September 28, 1989

E. Shevardnadze, A. Yakovlev, D. Yazov et V. Kryuchkov
Traduction de Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1This document reflects the first in-depth Soviet Politburo discussion of Poland after the June elections and the Mazowiecki government’s accession to power in August. The report to the Politburo prepared by Shevardnadze, Yakovlev, Yazov, and Kryuchkov opens with a blunt statement that the Polish “situation is unprecedented for a socialist country—the ruling communist party was not able to convincingly carry the parliamentary vote and had to yield to the opposition the right to form a government.” Yet the analysis is strikingly non-ideological and gives a sober assessment of the new realities of Soviet-Polish relations, already signaled by Moscow’s acquiescence to the Solidarity-led government as well as Mazowiecki’s pledge in his inaugural speech that Poland would remain in the Warsaw Pact. Overall, the authors of this report find that positive collaboration between the two states is possible and should be pursued on the basis of mutual interest. It notes that the new regime “will not be able to function” without Soviet energy supplies and raw materials, which will continue to tie the two countries together economically.

2Interestingly, even though stressing the need for further support for the Polish communists, the Politburo decides to invite the head of the party, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, only if he repeats his request for an invitation to come to the USSR, while the Politburo resolution specifically mentions inviting Prime Minister Mazowiecki, President Jaruzelski and Foreign Minister Skubiszewski. The report devotes surprisingly little space, about two paragraphs, to relations with the fraternal party, and there is some sense of distancing the CPSU from the Polish communists for the time being while expanding ties with forces across the political spectrum. The general tone of the report is not alarmist, although the authors do show concern over the spillover effect of a non-communist scenario in the region, and the possible impact on perestroika there.



31. Agree with the thoughts stated in the note by Cdes. E.A. Shevardnadze, A.N. Yakovlev, D.T. Yazov, V.A. Kryuchkov from September 20, 1989 (see attached).

42. Soviet-Polish relations should develop with consideration for the necessity to collaborate with all constructive political powers in the PPR that are in favor of developing Soviet-Polish relations and following Poland’s allied responsibilities within the framework of the Warsaw Treaty.

5Soviet ministries and departments, social organizations and creative unions should strictly adhere to all agreements and treaties signed with our Polish partners, not allowing a decrease in the level of collaboration with Poland.

63. Continue to consider connections between the CPSU and the PUWP as an important element of Soviet-Polish relations, specifically concentrating on helping our friends in the organizational and ideological strengthening of the party, and on restoring its political thrust and authority.

74. In accordance with existing plans, have Cdes. N.N. Slunkov’s and A.N. Yakovlev’s visit to the PPR come before the end of 1989. Allow for meetings with leaders of “Solidarity” and other political organizations during the visit.

85. In accordance with the existing agreement, receive First Secretary of the PUWP CC M. Rakowski on a working visit to the Soviet Union (if he repeats his request).

9The CC CPSU’s International Department should prepare material for the talks between M.S. Gorbachev and M. Rakowski.

10Send an invitation to PPR President W. Jaruzelski to come to the Soviet Union on an official visit in 1990.

116. Invite Chairman of the PPR Council of Ministers T. Mazowiecki to the Soviet Union on an official visit.

127. Receive in Moscow PPR Minister of Foreign Affairs K. Skubiszewski.

138. In accordance with the CC CPSU resolution of August 2, 1989 (P164/18), assign the Soviet ambassador in the PPR to meet with L. Wałęsa and discuss the possibility of his visiting the Soviet Union. Discuss the dates for the visit with the PUWP leadership beforehand.

149. Consider it expedient to establish connections between the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and both chambers of the PPR National Assembly, and to send invitations to marshals of the Sejm and Senate to come to the Soviet Union on official visits.

15Cdes. E.M. Primakov and R.N. Nishanov should develop a collaborative program for the USSR Supreme Soviet and the PPR National Assembly.

16It is important to establish contacts with committees and deputies’ clubs of all the political forces represented in the PPR National Assembly.

17Increase interactions among the national groups in the Interparliamentary Union.

1810. Consider it expedient to carry out a number of working visits to Poland by representatives of the chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers and heads of ministries and departments to discuss topical questions of Soviet-Polish economic collaboration; among the visits for 1989, plan Masliukov and Katushev’s trips to the PPR.

1911. USSR Gosplan, MFER [Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations], and Ministry of Finance are to register their concrete views before the end of the current year on the following: the possibility of a transition to current world market prices in trade with Poland; the use of freely convertible currency in mutual payments; the establishment of real exchange rates for national currencies; the expansion of wholesale trade; and the improvement of banking services. They are to create a joint group made up of representatives of planning organs, the USSR MFER, and the ministries of finance from both sides in order to work out a system of payments and prices.

20Develop a position on possible requests by Poland’s new government to defer the deadlines for Polish debt servicing to the Soviet Union, taking into consideration the interests of our country.

2112. Based on an analysis of developments in the domestic economic situation and foreign economic relations with Poland, USSR Gosplan, the Social-Economic and International departments of the CC CPSU, the MFA, the MFER, and the Academy of Sciences are to prepare by March 1, 1990, general directions for the necessary structural perestroika of our economic relations with Poland for the future, including such questions as possible changes in our present approach to coordinating economic plans, the creation of joint stock companies on Polish territory, and other forms of Soviet-Polish financial-economic collaboration under the new conditions.

2213. The CC CPSU International Department is to prepare thoughts and concepts on relations between the CPSU and the United Peasants’ Party and the Democratic Party, holding consultations with them before the end of 1989.

2314. Recommend that S.A. Shalaev (ACCTU [All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions]) take measures to broaden collaboration with the All-Polish trade union agreement [organization]. If needed, help in training and re-training embassy trade-union-worker personnel, and in publishing.

24With the goal of networking with all categories of Polish ACCTU workers, determine the “Solidarity” leadership’s readiness to make contact with Soviet trade unions.

2515. To strengthen the material base and increase the effectiveness of the Polish-Soviet Friendship Society’s work, Cde. V.V. Tereshkova (USFS [Union of Soviet Friendship Societies]) together with Cdes. L.E. Davletova (State Committee for Light Industries under USSR Gosplan), K.Z. Terekh (USSR Ministry of Trade), the USSR Ministry of Culture, S.A. Shalaev (ACCTU), and the USSR State Committee for International Tourism have one month to consider proposals to carry out joint events on a commercial basis.

2616. The CC CPSU International Department, together with Cde. U.N. Khris-toranov (Council on Religious Matters under the USSR Council of Ministers) are to submit proposals for broadening contacts with the episcopate of the Polish Catholic Church. Liven up our policy to develop Soviet-Vatican contacts with the aim of helping our Polish friends, primarily in their work with practicing Catholics and with the leadership of the Polish Catholic Church.

2717. Cdes. D.T. Yazov (USSR Ministry of Defense) and V.A. Kryuchkov (USSR KGB) are to be provided with a three-month period to develop ideas on maintaining collaboration with their PPR partners under the new circumstances.

2818. The USSR MFA, Ministry of Defense, and CC International Department should conduct negotiations with the PUWP leadership and the PPR Ministry of National Defense, as well as hold bilateral consultations with allied nations on questions of the future political and military operation of the Warsaw Treaty, considering the developing situation in the PPR and our long-term line in European and world affairs.

29Provide additional views regarding improving the mechanism of political and military collaboration within the framework of the Warsaw Treaty.

30Develop our position on the Polish government’s possible request for a further reduction or withdrawal of the Soviet troop contingent from PPR territory.

3119. The USSR permanent mission to CMEA together with the USSR MFA and other concerned departments should prepare views concerning possible changes in the PPR’s approach toward economic collaboration organizations within the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and its work.

3220. The CC CPSU Ideology and International Departments are to conduct a briefing with the heads of major newspapers, magazines, radio, and television with respect to elucidating the developing situation in Poland in the Soviet mass media. We should recommend that they regularly publish materials and articles by prominent political writers, statesmen, and diplomats that would express our view of the processes unfolding in the PPR.

33Cde. M.F. Nenashev (State Television and Radio of the USSR) should go over Solidarity’s proposal to create a “Warsaw-Moscow” tele-bridge that would represent from the Polish side all the political forces that took part in creating the Roundtable agreements. In the course of the discussion we would aim to exchange opinions on “methods of de-Stalinization in Soviet-Polish relations, and their consolidation.”

3421. The USSR MFA, Ministry of Defense, MFER, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, and other concerned Soviet departments and organizations are to take stock of the major active Soviet-Polish treaties and agreements from the point of view of their accordance with today’s demands and Poland’s possible requests to review them.

35Secretary of the CC


36The drawn-out crisis in Poland has entered a new stage. The PUWP gambled on reaching a national consensus by collaborating with the opposition but was not able to keep the developing events under control. The ensuing situation is unprecedented for a socialist country—the ruling communist party was not able to convincingly carry the parliamentary vote and had to yield to the opposition the right to form a government.

37The information we are receiving leads us to believe that right now Solidarity’s efforts will be directed primarily at consolidating the authority of the government of national accountability and at the same time at undermining the PUWP’s positions. Solidarity leaders have followed tactical considerations, particularly taking into account international factors, with the election of W. Jaruzelski as president of Poland and the inclusion of PUWP representatives in the government. However, with a favorable set of circumstances in the future, it is likely that they will try to take back both these concessions.

38Solidarity’s most immediate political goal is to hold elections for local offices ahead of schedule. It aims to carry a significant victory while riding the wave of its popularity, which would allow it to establish control over the entire structure of the state. The goal is to considerably transform the state and economic administrative apparatus and get rid of loyal PUWP personnel, which would affect around 15,000 people just in the initial stages.

39Solidarity is working to liquidate PUWP organizations in ministries and departments, industry and institutions, in education and the military; it is limiting PUPW’s financial resources and reducing subsidies for social organizations tied to the PUWP.

40By 1991, the 200th anniversary of the first Polish Constitution, we can expect a new PPR law to be adopted that would consolidate the changes in Poland’s political life and become the foundation for further transformations.

41It seems we should proceed from the fact that Poland is entering a lengthy period with serious far-reaching social and political consequences, which is characterized by the struggle for the ability to choose the path for the country’s further development.

42Within Solidarity there is a broad spectrum of political views—from social democrats to the bourgeois-conservative, and at present it is difficult to say who will prevail. But under the current circumstances, representatives of a number of social groups, including some PUWP members, are united by the hope of leading the country out of its crisis through a concept developed in Solidarity. This concept of the evolutionary reorganization of Poland is based on Swedish social-democratic ideas and the standpoints of Catholic social doctrine. It would seem that this kind of evolution would also imply changes in the foundation, including the denationalization of state property and every kind of encouragement for private enterprise.

43The PUWP is in an exceptionally difficult position right now. The trust of the masses has been considerably undermined. Members of the party are demoralized, many are condemning the policies that led to “a voluntary surrender of power, an increase in withdrawals from party ranks, and the danger of a split in the party.”

44Headed by M. Rakowski, the party leadership views the situation realistically and is preparing for a serious political struggle. But enormous amounts of energy and time would be necessary to reconstitute the PUWP and restore its lost positions. A great deal will depend on the resolutions of the forthcoming XI Party Congress.

45Also important will be the fact that on the political level, right now, the PUWP leadership places national interests as its first priority, expressing a readiness to cooperate in order to promote the success of T. Mazowiecki’s government.

46The “grand coalition” government faces a major challenge—how to pull the country out of a deep social and economic crisis and get workers’ support for unavoidably severe economic stabilization measures while the economic situation worsens and workers grow more and more discontented. They will have to overcome the tendency to reduce industrial production and normalize a troubled financial system; deal with frightful inflation; and arrest the disintegration of the domestic market. If they cannot achieve tangible results in this respect, then a new social explosion will be unavoidable. As the protests have shown, Solidarity cannot expect to possess a special capability to maintain social peace at the enterprises.

47Aspects of foreign policy in general are favorable to T. Mazowiecki’s government. Even though there is as yet no major financial support materializing from the West, leading West European countries and the U.S., which view the “Polish experiment” first and foremost through the prism of their political interests in Eastern Europe, are working on options for offering Poland food assistance.

48At the same time, T. Mazowiecki’s government is interested in maintaining economic relations with the USSR, because it will not be able to function without Soviet energy-fuel and raw material resources in the foreseeable future. Therefore, both poles of attraction—the East and the West—will influence the foreign policy course of the new Polish government. The Solidarity leaders’ strategic plan, which is aimed at reorienting Poland’s economic ties towards the world capitalist market and its political ties towards achieving neutrality, will present a major problem that will affect not only the interests of Poland and its society’s political forces, but also those of the PPR’s allies and neighboring countries.

49Naturally, the conditions under which we conduct our policies towards the PPR are becoming more complex. But in the new situation we have the opportunity to maintain friendly, good-neighborly relations with Poland. A number of factors provide for this: Poland’s geopolitical situation in Europe, the traditional ties between two Slavic peoples, the Poles’ German syndrome and the dependence of Poland’s economy on our energy sources. The progress of socialist transformation in our country, first and foremost the realization of plans for per-estroika in economic and foreign economic relations, will have an undeniable impact on the development of the situation in Poland and on the formation of Soviet-Polish relations.

50Right now the head of the new Polish government and the political leaders of Solidarity are emphasizing their interest in stable Polish-Soviet relations. Time will tell how sincere these statements are. Even though T. Mazowiecki’s government needs to have good relations with us, at the same time it is clear that within Solidarity’s leadership and the government there will be a struggle over foreign policy and foreign economic orientation. […]

51Under these circumstances it is important to keep in mind that a resolution of the protracted crisis and a normalization of Poland’s political situation is in our interest. In this sense we should support corresponding efforts by the new Polish coalition government. On these grounds we could reach a business understanding with the new government, which would not contradict our support for the PUWP. Intergovernmental efforts in our bilateral relations with Poland have to work together with improvements in inter-party relations between the CPSU and PUWP and with reaching out to other political forces in the country.

52On a number of foreign policy issues at the intergovernmental level considerable differences in positions and evaluations could occur. It seems that the new government will raise questions more sharply than the PUWP leadership has done—questions related to our troop presence on Poland’s territory; the “blind spots,” especially Katyń; and other difficult problems in Soviet-Polish relations.

53Right now in our approach to Soviet-Polish relations in the political sphere we have to proceed from the realities in the PPR. We have to be prepared to cooperate with the new Polish government, the political parties, and the forces represented in the parliament.

54Taking into account the changes in the PPR MFA leadership, we have to diversify the contacts of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs with them, using them not only to influence the formulation of the course of foreign policy, but also to discuss high-priority issues in Soviet-Polish relations, which will most likely be raised by the Polish side more and more frequently.

55It seems expedient to invite the new PPR minister of foreign affairs for a visit to Moscow before the end of the year. In accordance with existing practice we should also plan a meeting with him and other foreign ministers from Warsaw Treaty Organization member-states during the U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

56Individual work with prominent members of the Sejm and Senate, leaders of the United Peasants’ Party and the Democratic Party, leaders of Catholic lay organizations [text interrupted], influential social figures and representatives of the intelligentsia acquires special significance. It is important to expand collaboration with the All-Polish administration of labor unions and other Polish social organizations (youth, the society for Polish-Soviet friendship, and others).

57Considering the important role of the Catholic Church in Poland’s social life, it seems expedient to maintain a political dialogue with the Episcopate leadership, not limiting contact to the Council on Religious Matters under the USSR Council of Ministers. The subject of Poland will undoubtedly take up a significant part of the meeting with the Pope during Cde. Gorbachev’s trip to Italy.

58In this context, the further intensification of Soviet-Vatican contacts, especially the establishment of diplomatic relations, could create fundamentally new opportunities. This position would unquestionably create a much more favorable situation for the PUWP’s work with practicing Catholics and with the leadership of the Polish Catholic Church.

59In trade-economic collaboration it is becoming necessary to transfer our bilateral relations onto a mutually beneficial basis, to make payments in freely convertible currency and at current world prices. It would be useful to prepare our position in advance in case the Polish government asks us to defer the deadlines for its debt servicing, or to have a partial remission of the PPR’s debt to the Soviet Union.

60The course of events in Poland is having a negative impact on European socialist countries, is increasing concerns about the fate of socialism, and sometimes leads to false conclusions about the flaws of perestroika’s processes. It will be important to consider this detail when we state our positions at the meeting of CC secretaries of communist and labor parties on international issues in Varna.

61The position of the PPR’s new government on issues of multilateral collaboration among the socialist countries so far has not been finally determined.

62At the same time it is already clear that Solidarity’s assumption of power will create problems for the operation of the Warsaw Treaty. Even though its leaders still speak of honoring the alliance, it is possible that they will change their approaches in the future.

63The new Polish situation could necessitate amendments to the multilateral political and military interactions that have been established. At the same time we should look for approaches in our contacts with representatives of the current Polish leadership that would not cause them to suspect a lack of trust on our side and thereby lead to a decrease in the level of collaboration by the allied states. This is especially important when conducting meetings within the framework of the Political Consultative Committee and the Committee of Foreign Ministers, sessions of the Committee of Ministers [text interrupted] and the Military Council, at WTO headquarters, and in the special commission on questions of disarmament where issues vital to the allied states are considered and mutual positions are coordinated.

64In particular, it is important to adhere strictly to equal partnership relations when forming collective negotiating positions among the allied states on the subject of disarmament, especially for conventional weapons. We should reject the practice of “informing:” imposing our point of view on our allies as we develop and coordinate a common line on this or that issue; we should carefully consider our partners’ opinions.

65Overall we can expect that the alliance’s work will proceed strictly along intergovernmental lines. Taking into account the Solidarity leaders’ demands to sharply reduce military spending we cannot exclude the possibility that Poland will begin to disregard the total fulfillment of its allied responsibilities. It is possible that participation in the Warsaw Treaty will become a formality.

66More difficult questions could arise should the Polish leadership eventually raise the question of withdrawing from the military organization or from the alliance as a whole. However we can scarcely expect that such a step could be taken in the near future.

67It seems that it would be expedient first to discuss the developing situation with the PUWP leadership and on a bilateral basis with our allies, especially since many of them have already expressed this wish at the working level.

68The need also arises to review some of the proposals that are being worked on within the framework of the alliance right now. These are proposals for improving the mechanism of political and military collaboration (P143/10 from December 2, 1988 and P160/9 from May 26 1989). We should initiate work in this direction. It appears that the issue of creating a permanent political working body is especially relevant under the present circumstances.

69Considering Solidarity’s announced radical transformations in the Polish economy it would be important to prepare for possible changes in Poland’s approach toward questions of bilateral and multilateral economic collaboration. We can expect that the new government will embark on a review of collaborative strategies within the framework of CMEA and the PPR’s relations with this organization. Most likely it will try to achieve a more radical development of the mechanism of multilateral economic interaction on a market basis and a relaxation of the processes of integration. It is likely that the PPR will refuse to collaborate on a preferential basis with less developed members of CMEA such as the SRV [Socialist Republic of Vietnam], the Republic of Cuba, and the MPR [Mongolian People’s Republic]. It is also possible that the question of reducing the PPR’s financial share in CMEA will be raised, as well as the assigned personnel of the Polish segment of its Secretariat. The radicalization of the PPR’s position in CMEA will further complicate relations among participating countries and the search for a compromise in resolving key issues of economic collaboration. This could lead to an increase in confrontational episodes in the course of fulfilling the perestroika program in CMEA’s work and the politicization of the work of the session, the executive committee, and the committees.

70Serious difficulties could arise in the work of such CMEA organs as the standing commission on issues of military collaboration of European member-states of CMEA, the Committee on Foreign Economic Relations and certain others.

71All of this requires that we work out new approaches in principle toward developing relations with Poland on many issues. In this respect it seems necessary to undertake a number of practical measures in the near future.

72September 20, 1989.

73[Source: State Archive of the Russian Federation [GARF], Moscow. Yakovlev Collection. Fond 10063. Opis 1. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Anna Melyakova.]


Anna Melyakova (Traducteur)

© Central European University Press, 2010

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