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Constituent Assembly were conducted, the Fatherland Front Government was obliged to concede that Mr. Petkov's adherents had polled over 1,200,000 votes, or some 29 percent of the total.
For reasons well known to the Soviet Government, the Moscow agreement was not implemented. On the contrary, the Fatherland Front inaugurated a campaign of terrorization and intimidation against the Bulgarian opposition with the obvious aim of attaining its dissolution. This campaign has resulted in the scandalous trial, conviction and sentence to death of Mr. Petkov and in the abolition of the Agrarian Party by parliamentary decree of August 26th as well as in various other repressive measures against Agrarian leaders.
The United States Government cannot accept the position taken by the Soviet Government in your note under acknowledgment. The Petkov case, involving the leader of the principal opposition party, obviously vitally affects the existence of representative government in Bulgaria. Thus it is clearly within the purview of the Yalta Agreement in which the establishment of such a Government was declared to be of concern to the three powers and warrants a review by them. The contention that the matter is of purely internal Bulgarian concern cannot relieve the Yalta Powers from their commitment to concert their policies in regard to developments of this nature. As for Bulgarian sovereignty, it may be remarked that Bulgaria is still under armistice control. The Soviet attitude, therefore, violates Soviet obligations assumed at Yalta and is a negation of the rights of the United States as a signatory to the Bulgarian armistice.
The Bulgarian parliamentary action in abolishing the Agrarian Union, which constitutes the latest development in the repressive campaign against the rights and liberties of members of that party has removed from Parliamentary participation the last of the 90 deputies elected by the Agrarians to that body. Parliamentary opposition to the Government Fatherland Front bloc now consists of 8 deputies of the Opposition Social Democratic Party in a chamber of which the total membership numbers 465. Any pretense that such a situation is consistent with the conduct of representative government in Bulgaria is manifestly preposterous. Accordingly, pursuant to its Yalta obligations, the United States Government requests that, in addition to reviewing the Petkov case, the U. S. S. R., Ú. K. and U. S. also consult with a view to reaching a concert of policies in regard to the conditions created by these related develop
(c) Statement by the Department of State, September 23, 1947 1
The Department of State has received confirmation from the Acting Political Representative in Sofia that Nikola Petkov was executed on September 23.
Mr. Petkov was one of the four Bulgarian signers of the Bulgarian armistice. As the leader of the Agrarian Party, the largest political party in Bulgaria, he played an active and leading role in the establishment of a coalition government in September 1944, following the overthrow of the Bulgarian Nazi regime. Subsequently, in July 1945, Mr. Petkov and the majority of his party withdrew from the
Department of State Bulletin of October 5, 1947, pp. 702-703.
minority-controlled organ which that Government became. July 1945 he has been the acknowledged leader of the opposition. was arrested on charges of conspiracy against the government on June 8, 1947.
Mr. Petkov's trial was a travesty on justice. Two of the attorneys selected by Petkov were seized by the militia. The court refused to permit the appearance of numerous witnesses requested by the defense. The court likewise denied a request by the defense for a postponement to permit study of the pre-trial record. The presiding judge actively participated in the prosecution. On August 16, 1947, the court pronounced Mr. Petkov guilty of "having inspired certain Bulgarian Army officers to found a military union which conspired to overthrow the Fatherland Front Government," et cetera. Petkov was sentenced to death.
Mindful of its obligations under the Yalta agreement in regard to assisting the peoples of the former Axis satellite states to solve by democratic means their pressing political problems, the United States Government requested the Soviet acting deputy chairman of the Allied Control Commission to instruct the Bulgarian Government, without prejudice to the right of Mr. Petkov to appeal, to suspend the sentence passed upon him until the Commission had had full oppǝrtunity to review the case. This and subsequent approaches to the Allied Control Commission were rejected by the Soviet acting deputy chairman on the grounds that such review would constitute "interference in Bulgarian internal affairs". On August 23 the American Embassy at Moscow informed the Soviet Foreign Office that the United States Government could not accept the position taken by the Soviet Representative on the Allied Control Commission and requested immediate consultation at a government level among the three Yalta Powers in order that they might reach concerted policies in regard to the matter. This approach and a later one of August 30 to the Soviet Foreign Office were likewise rejected on similar reasoning. The United States Government also communicated its views concerning the Petkov case to the highest Bulgarian authorities.
The timing and conduct of the trial and its relationship to other repressive measures undertaken by the Bulgarian authorities make it abundantly clear that the trial constituted but one of a series of measures undertaken by the Communist-dominated Fatherland Front government to remove from the Bulgarian scene all save a purely nominal opposition and to consolidate, despite its professions to the contrary, a totalitarian form of government. The trial of Nikola Petkov recalls to memory another trial which occurred in Leipzig 14 years ago. In that earlier trial a Bulgarian defendant evoked worldwide admiration for his courageous defiance of the Nazi bully who participated in his prosecution. Today that defendant has assumed another role, and it is now the courage of another Bulgarian whose steadfast opposition to forces of oppression has evoked world-wide admiration. In bringing Nikola Petkov to trial the Bulgarian regime placed itself on trial in the minds of many Bulgarians and of freedomsupporting peoples outside Bulgaria. In the court of world opinion that regime has shown itself wanting with respect to elementary principles of justice and the rights of man.
268. THE KOSTOV TREASON TRIAL 1
Statement by Department of State, December 1, 1949
The Department of State has noted that in the Bulgarian Government's indictment against former Vice Premier Traicho Kostov for treason and espionage, it is alleged that in 1947 the American Minister, Donald R. Heath, had two interviews with Kostov who was then Acting Prime Minister. Mr. Heath, according to the indictment, told Kostov to coordinate his activities with Tito and the leaders of Yugoslavia. According to this fanciful tale, based on the now familiar type of "confession" which appears to have been made by Kostov, his plots to overthrow his government were carried forward on the basis of his understanding with Mr. Heath.
This crude attempt to accuse the United States Government and its official representative in Bulgaria of being involved in clandestine efforts to overthrow the Bulgarian Government follows the pattern of the Rajk trial in Hungary and similar travesties of the judicial process held elsewhere in Communist countries.
The statements concerning Minister Heath are completely fabricated. From the date of his arrival in Bulgaria in October 1947 to the present he has never had an interview of any kind with Traicho Kostov. In fact he has never exchanged a single word, oral or written, with him. This single fact affords ample basis for judging the veracity of the indictment.
269. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA 2 Statement by Ambassador Warren R. Austin, United States Representative in the Security Council, April 12, 1948
The Security Council has been considering the serious charges made before it both against the Soviet Union and the present Czechoslovak Government with respect to the recent events that have taken place in Czechoslovakia.
It is charged that the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic, legally constituted by the parliamentary election of May 1946, has been undermined by a Communist minority which was encouraged and given promise of help by the representatives of the U. S. S. R.
It is said that the Communist coup was successful only because of the violence of a Soviet-supported Communist minority; because of the participation of Soviet representatives; and the threat of military force of the Soviet Union in readiness near the boundaries of Czechoslovakia. Soviet officials and military representatives are alleged to have taken part in meetings and demonstrations in Prague during the crisis. It was further alleged that Soviet officers participated in the arrest of non-Communist political leaders; that Soviet agents worked in the Ministry of Interior which controls the police and the security troops; and that Soviet agents were also among the armed militia in the streets of Prague.
! Department of State press release, No. 941, December 1, 1949. 2 Department of State Bulletin of April 25, 1948, pp. 536-539.
Allegations were made in support of the charge that Czechoslovakia was subject to indirect aggression and political infiltration which led to the subversion of the parliamentary regime and to the establishment of a terroristic police rule under the present regime.
It is further charged that the political independence of Czechoslovakia, a member of the United Nations, has been violated by threat of use of force on the part of another member of the United Nations, the U. S. S. R., in violation of paragraph 4 of article 2 of the Charter, and that as a result a situation exists which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.
It has been argued that these charges cannot be considered by the Security Council because of the provision contained in article 2 (7) of the Charter providing that the United Nations cannot intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of a state. However, the charges are based on the allegation of an illegal intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state leading to the impairment of its political independence. Moreover, the restoration and maintenance of democratic institutions in liberated Europe, including Czechoslovakia, was made the subject of an international agreement concluded at Yalta by Marshal Stalin, Prime Minister Churchill, and President Roosevelt in February 1945. Consequently, if the charges are true, article 2 (7) could clearly not be a bar to Security Council jurisdiction over the Czechoslovak question. The taking of evidence is the way to settle whether the charges are a premeditated quota of slander, as charged by the Soviet Union.
In the charges before us we are not faced with an account of armed forces moving across the frontier from one state to another in pursuance of an aggressive purpose. In such case of a "use of force" the problem of evidence for all practical purposes would not arise. However, the charges before us are that a "threat of force" was used. The Security Council must determine whether "threat of force" was used or some other form of pressure or illegal interference was applied. All the facts in this case are not readily apparent, but the seriousness of the charges is such that the Security Council is bound to make every effort to "get at the facts".
The Chilean Government, which brought the Czechoslovak question before the Security Council originally, requested the Security Council to conduct an investigation. A proposal has now been submitted by the Chilean Government for the creation of a subcommittee to hear witnesses and report to the Security Council on the nature of their testimony. We believe that this might be a convenient method for the Security Council to understand the Czechoslovak situation. I assert that the United States is behind this proposition if it is made by a member of the Council.
What were the events that led up to the death of the Foreign Minister of that country and to the numerous resignations of Czechoslovak diplomatic representatives in the United States, Canada. Netherlands, Norway, France, and elsewhere? Is the death of Masaryk propaganda poison? Are these resignations deceit circulated abroad? Why is there present along the Czechoslovak frontier an unusually heavy frontier guard and what is the significance of the flight from that country of numerous refugees and particularly political figures whose reputation and integrity were not thrown into question prior to the rise of the new regime?
Certain facts on the developments in Czechoslovakia itself are a matter of common knowledge. They have not been reviewed in detail here, however, and they should be. They constitute the framework of internal developments against which the charges of external interference must be considered.
The Czechoslovak Government crisis was precipitated by the unwillingness of Premier Gottwald and the Communist ministers to respect two majority decisions of the Cabinet with reference to the administration of the police power under the Communist Ministry of Interior. The latter was making arbitrary appointments of police officials in a process of extending Communist control. The 12 nonCommunist ministers resigned in protest as an appropriate parliamentary response to a refusal of a Cabinet minority to abide by the wish of the Cabinet majority. The Communists seized upon this as an occasion for breaking the opposition, discrediting its leaders, and taking over full control of the Government. How was it possible that this minority party could successfully overthrow the elected Government of Czechoslovakia and establish in effect a police regime? At the time of the crisis the Communist Party was already in control of the security police, the state broadcasting apparatus, and had also secured important influence in the armed forces. This control arose as a result of a series of circumstances, beginning with the signing of a friendship treaty between Czechoslovakia and the U. S. S. R. on December 12, 1943. This was an expression of a desire on the part of the Czechoslovak Government to maintain close relations with the Soviet Union in the genuine belief that Czechoslovakia, when liberated from German occupation, would be able to continue its democratic Government and institutions without intervention from her powerful neighbor. This treaty, in fact, included a clause stipulating nonintervention by either of the parties in the other's domestic affairs. It is perhaps significant to note that this treaty was one of a series of treaties signed between the U. S. S. R., Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, and Poland, all of which contained this guaranty. Now I ask you, are these allegations based on newspaper reports, or are they based on solemn conventions? At the same time, the Czechoslovak leaders declared their willingness to include representatives of the Communist Party in a new Cabinet, although it had never before participated in any Czechoslovak Government. They showed more than good will to cooperate with the Soviet Union and with the Communists. In the negotiations that took place in 1945 in Moscow among Czechoslovak leaders with regard to the formation of a new Cabinet, the Communists managed to secure the key posts of Interior, Information, Agriculture, and Education. In addition, the Communists had a stronghold in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Undersecretary of State and in the Ministry of National Defense, which was headed by General Ludvig Svoboda, a professional soldier who had led the first Czechoslovak brigade in the U. S. S. R. and whose pro-Soviet sentiments are well known. These key positions as a rule, according to the Czechoslovak parliamentary practice, went to the party that received the strongest support in the elections. We can only speculate on what basis the Communists obtained them during the Moscow discussion. Control of key posts in the Government placed the Communists during the period immediately after Czechoslovak liberation in a dominant position entirely out of proportion to their popular support. Through the Ministry of Interior they controlled the police, which