Martin Dzur, Czechoslovak Military Chief

From Times Wire Services

Martin Dzur, the defense minister who represented his nation in Moscow following the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, died Tuesday. The official news agency CIK said only that he died after "a long and serious illness."

He was replaced as defense minister only four days ago by Milan Vaclavik, a fellow general.

Dzur, 65, was appointed defense minister in April, 1968, four months before an estimated 650,000 Soviet troops marched into Czechoslovakia in a clash with the new, more liberal regime of Alexander Dubcek.

Dzur, who combined his office with membership in the ruling Communist Party's powerful Central Committee, went to Moscow with other Czech leaders shortly after the Soviet invasion to resist installation of a proposed, hand-picked puppet government.

In the first years of Dzur's 16-year tenure, the government underwent a steady transformation and by the mid-1970s was one of Moscow's most unquestioning allies.

Dzur's replacement left President Gustav Husak, Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Colotka the sole ranking members of the post-invasion government still holding political office.

Dzur was born July 12, 1919, at Plostin, north Slovakia, the son of peasants.

In 1943, while doing military draft service in the Slovak army, he deserted to opposing Soviet forces and joined the then-illegal Czechoslovak Communist Party. A captain in the Soviet-supported 1st Czechoslovak Independent Brigade at the end of World War II, he quickly rose in the military ranks.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World