The Geography of partnerships between the regions of the USSR and Czechoslovakia (1950–1980s)

Sheshnev A.S., Kovalev M.V.


Since the mid-1950s, a movement arose in the development of the practice of twin cities aiming to establish partnerships between the regions of the USSR and the countries of the socialist bloc. Initially, such ties were formed between the border regions, but later other regions began to be included in these processes. One of the most striking examples of such interactions is seen in the case of the USSR and Czechoslovakia. Interregional cooperation was embodied not only in the political and ideological dimensions, but also in the scientific, educational, cultural, and industrial spheres. Although there was an obvious desire on part of the USSR to consolidate and strengthen its influence, especially after the suppression of the Prague Spring, interregional relations between the USSR and Czechoslovakia in practice provided many examples of quite successful and mutually beneficial cooperation. Official relations were maintained by 10 pairs of regions from two countries. The nature of international cooperation between the regions reflected the general level of interstate relations. The emergence of «friendly relations», as it was called in official sources, gave rise to an emergence of socioeconomic, scientific, technical, cultural, and industrial ties between regions. In the process of selecting the regions of the two countries, not to mention the subsequent interaction, special political and ideological contexts for making managerial decisions arose. This article shows that the integration between the regions followed the bureaucratic path and was based on the decisions at the highest echelons of power. As a result, there were practically no direct ties between the cooperating teams of countries, and the interaction carried out through higher authorities did not contribute to a deep interest in cooperation. Nevertheless, despite the pronounced ideological background of twinning contacts between the regions of the USSR and Czechoslovakia, one of the most effective results was the personal contacts established between workers in the fields of culture, science, and education. Official twinning contacts between the regions ceased at the end of the Soviet period due to the change in the socio-political environment in the two countries.


Czechoslovakia; USSR, partnership relations; scientific and technical cooperation; twin cities; public diplomacy; cultural and scientific ties.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2023.02.11

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