“Michael Kocáb was a very good diplomat. The other members of the commission tended towards exhibiting their resentments and emotions, I dare to say even aggressiveness, but he always stayed calm and pragmatic. When a situation occurred, he always told me: ‘Mr. General, they have their truth, you have your truth, let’s try to just lessen the tension’. He had his influence even on me. ‘Right, right, let’s do this, let’s do that, we’ll handle that tomorrow, we’ll see, we’ll solve this, we’ll write a protocol and have everything done.”
“My father died in the hands of an adjutant. He was still conscious and told the adjutant to tell my mother that one of the two boys shall become a soldier, but only if he behaved towards people in the same way as my father did. They said this to my Mom and, of course, she never forgot to remind us of it regularly. When I was about to graduate from the technical college, I remembered what my Mom used to tell us and so I wanted to become a pilot.”
“When we came to the city of Stříbro, we were passing through the streets. There were buildings to the right, buildings to the left and there was a thick fog that made it almost impossible to see. As we were driving down the street, I spotted the silhouettes of people on the road ahead. At first, I couldn’t believe it, but as we came closer, we could see youngsters, boys and girls, sitting on the road and the pavements ahead. It was a blockade. They were sitting sideways towards us. We came about fifty meters close to them before I spotted them. I was driving in the first car and I really wasn’t expecting this.”
“When we were entering Czechoslovakia, I was deeply persuaded that there were forces in the country that wanted to lead the Czechoslovak people astray from the proper path to socialist progress. This was troubling us twice, since we cherished and respected Czechoslovakia very much. We were very troubled about the developments in Czechoslovakia because this state and this nation formed a solid foundation of the Warsaw Treaty. How was that possible? We knew that there were problems in the Polish, Hungarian and Romanian armies, but Czechoslovakia? This incited a lot of tension inside of us.”
“They asked me, as the commander, if the Soviet forces were going to interfere somehow in what was going on in the country. But our military and political command issued a clear order not to engaged, as this was an internal affair of Czechoslovakia. So it was a matter of how the Czechoslovaks behaved. They recommended to us to limit our maneuvers and to exercises inside our bases and training grounds. So we interrupted all exercises outside the military campuses and training grounds and exercised inside our bases and garrisons.”
“When they came to a well to get water the locals wouldn’t give them any. They went to the next well where they had already gotten the information. A woman stood next to the well, her arms crossed behind her back, her clothes unbuttoned, and as soon as our troops arrived and tried to get some water, she said ‘beat!’ There was a group of guys standing a few meters away, maybe they even had some photographers there in case we tried to pull her away. The commander who went to get the water turned around, came and reported everything to the commander of the battalion. We started to pump our own water in the forest.”
On June 30, 1991, I was the last commander, the last occupant, to leave Czechoslovakia
Lieutenant-General Eduard A. Vorobjov (Эдуард Аркадьевич Воробьёв) was born on October 25, 1938, in Voronezh in central Russia. During WWII, he was evacuated together with his mother, brother and sister to the Penza Oblast. His father was an air-force pilot, serving in the ranks of the Red Army. He was killed in combat in March 1945 when the Red Army was liberating Wroclaw. As soon as 1944, the family moved to the Sumy Oblast in the Ukraine, where young Eduard attended elementary school. He then continued his studies at a technical college where he studied construction. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a pilot but he didn’t pass the admission tests (he dropped out at the centrifuge). He worked briefly in Tajikistan after which he began his compulsory military service in Krasnodar. After serving for a year in the army, he decided to become a professional soldier. In 1961 he graduated with honors from a higher military school in Baku and joined the 138th motorized artillery division in Mukachevo in Carpathian Ruthenia. After two years, he was transferred to the city of Würzen in East Germany. In 1968, he was admitted to Frunze’s Military Academy in Moscow. His departure to Moscow was, however, prevented by the invasion of the Warsaw Treaty armies into Czechoslovakia in 1968, which he had to take part in. The Soviet troops in East Germany were getting ready for the invasion already a month prior to its beginning. Mr. Vorobjov’s unit entered Czechoslovakia at Černý Potok in the Chomutov District and was headed to the Domažlice region. By the end of 1968, he finally left for Moscow to start his studies at the Academy. He finished his studies three years later and graduated from the Academy in 1971. Ten years later, in 1981, he graduated from the General Staff’s Military Academy. He served in the Ukraine, in Armenia and in the Turkestan military perimeter in Central Asia, where he was involved in the training of Russian soldiers for the invasion into Afghanistan. In 1987, he became the commander of the central group of Soviet forces stationed in Czechoslovakia. He was sitting at the table during the negotiations about the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Czechoslovakia and became the last Soviet soldier to leave Czechoslovak territory in June 1991. In 1992, he was in command of the peace forces that ended the fighting in Transnistria. He also dealt with the question of the stationed Russian troops in Tajikistan. In December 1994, he refused to lead the Russian operation in Chechnya because he thought the Russian army to be ill prepared. He retired and became an MP in the Russian State Duma for the party “Democratic choice of Russia” and later for the “Federation of right powers”. He was an MP in the years 1995-2003 and became a close aide of the Russian reformist prime minister Jegor Gajdar. Today, he lives with his wife in Moscow and has two daughters.