Friday (9 May) was the anniversary of Czechoslovakia's liberation by Soviet troops from Nazi occupation 24 years ago.
Jan Piller addressing meeting; audience; Smrkovsky seated; slogan on stage.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Friday (9 May) was the anniversary of Czechoslovakia's liberation by Soviet troops from Nazi occupation 24 years ago. But the Liberation Day celebrations were played down this year and the usual massive parade through the heart of Prague was cancelled. One event which did take place was the meeting of the Soviet-Czechoslovak Friendship Society, in Prague's Julius Fucik Amusement Park.
Busloads of people -- many with children -- arrived for the meeting from outside the city. They were addressed by Mr.Jan Piller, a member of the Party Praesidium, who said there had been too much risk in the policies pursued by Mr. Alexander Dubcek, recently replaced by Mr. Gustav Husak as Czechoslovak Party leader.
The audience greeted his remarks with loud applause and shouts of "long live the Soviet Union". Among those present was Mr. Josef Smrkovsky, demoted former head of the National Assembly.
A high level Soviet delegation is expected in Prague soon to prepare for a new round of talks between Soviet and Czechoslovakia leaders. Informed sources said Mr. Nikolai Babaikov, a Soviet Deputy Premier, and possibly Marshal Grechko the Defence Minister, would go to Prague after the three-day Czechoslovak national holiday which started on Friday (9 May).
The talks are expected to deal with economic and military matters and could herald Soviet financial aid and a possible reduction in Soviet military strength in Czechoslovakia.