MOSCOW DIARY by Veljko Micunovic


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As Yugoslav ambassador to Moscow from 1956 to 1958, Micunovic was in the thick of the second phase of Soviet-Yugoslav wrangling over Belgrade's attempt to steer an independent course. The first phase was the period of Stalin's rule, and though Micunovic's tenure began shortly after Khrushchev's famous ""secret speech"" denouncing Stalin's excesses, the spirit of the Soviet strongman pervades these memoirs. 1956 was a critical year not only because of Khrushchev's speech, but also because of the rebellions in Poland and Hungary which prompted Moscow to try to tighten the screws on Yugoslavia. This diary is like a roller-coaster, with repeated public declarations of fraternity between Tito and Khrushchev interrupted by private declarations of anger, often voiced by Khrushchev himself in hours-long conversations with Micunovic. All of this gets pretty Byzantine and repetitive; but we do learn, interestingly, that Belgrade agreed with the Kremlin before the invasion of Hungary that something had to be done to prevent a slide into ""counterrevolution"" there, and even went so far as to counsel Moscow on the need to prepare the political ground for an intervention. In the end, it was only Soviet methods that separated the two countries. But Micunovic's diary points up the difficulties engendered by Khrushchev's effort to climb politically by attacking Stalin, since this left him hostage to any sign of weakening Soviet power and provoked him to unpredictable uses of force. On the other side, Micunovic's constant casual references to his past as a partisan fighter silently testify to the independence and cohesion of the Yugoslavs, and explain their ability to face up to Moscow more thoroughly than any rehashing of diplomatic maneuvers--the larger part of the content here.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday