USSR: IMPLICATIONS OF FREEING SAKHAROV

Created: 1/7/1987

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

possess**

USSR:

Secretary.Gorbachfiv.'s willingness to allow Andrey Sakharov tojpeak treaty Is a'bold[stroke designed to persuade foreign audiences that the Soviet leader Is serious about democratizing the Soviet system and to strengthen his support among reform-minded officials and the Intelligentsia.

The regime's efforts to facilitate publicity for Sakharov's views since his return to Moscow are unprecedented. The state organization that controls radio and television broadcasting allowed US television networks to interview Sakharov in its studios. Sakharov said Saturday that the Soviet weekly Literary Gazette had interviewed him and might publlshthe interview today, according to Western press reporting.

External Purposes

Foreign policy calculations haveote In the regime's about-face on Sakharov. It deflects Western criUcism'of the death in prison of Jbngtlme human rtghts'gCtlvls^Analolly.Marchenko and enhances Gorbachevs efforts lo develop hls_ image abroad j

The move was probably designed in part to facilitate progress on arms control and tosmooth the way for expanded trade with Western Europe. In the CSCE forum, it removes one of several Impediments lo Western participation in Ihe humanitarian affairs conference that the Soviets have proposed to be hetdjn Moscow. The desire to remove the SakharoV caseoadblock: to broadening scientific exchanges with the West may also haveactor, as Sakharov himself hi suggested.

Anticipated Domestic Benefits

The decision to arrange for Sakharov lo be interviewed by domesticoreign media was also prompted by Gorbachev's need to generate new momentum for his effort to revitalize Soviet society. Many disgruntled officials and intellectuals see the handling of Sakharovey barometer of the regime's commitment to reform.

Many Soviet cultural, scientific, and intellectual figures and low-level officials admire Sakharov, according to Interviews by USIA of Westerners who have had contact withGB defector has reported widespread sympathy for Sakharov among Intellectuals, who

continued

c-rbachev probably expects th"Qt,Sakharov's freedom to speak will furlhef.hls'efforls to lure bacfrpromlrlent Russian cultural figures who have emigrated or defected to the West. The regime has recently used Intermediaries to make overtures about the return of theater director Yurly Lyubimov. who apparently will go back, and several others, according to Western press reports and US Embassy contacts. Last week, in an unusual, laudatory obituary of film director Andrey Tarkovskly, who had defected In Western Europe several years ago. TASS lamented the continued foreign exile of Russian cultural figures. I

Gorbachev may calculate that Sakharov wirLsupport many of hislthough Sakhard/has beer^twtspoken since his return tout the regime's abdses ot rtuman rights and has publicly acknowledged ttat President Reagan's attention to these abuses has helped Soviet dissidents, hV has alsefelief thatmoving indor&stlcally. Sakharov has unequivocally endorsedfiorbachev's pcflcy of cultural openness. Moreover, Soviet pfopaganmBts-can explojr Sakharov's expressions ql skepticism'about SDI. even tfiough Sakharov has also-urged that -tfieOS^not maJjj^fr arms pwitro^reements contingent on a

-restriction ot SDI.

Political Implications

No Soviet leader has gone to such lengths to court Soviet Intellectuals since the cultural thaw under Khrushchev. Gorbachev's doing so suggests that he Is willing, and possibly even compelled, to seek support wherever he can find ft.

GorjSchev3 dlffljajlty inonsensus in the Politburo for his domestic programs might have oeen at leastpartly responsible for his decision to release Sakhar6v. Bylncfeasing hfs personal popularity among those intellectuals'find loSyerMevel officials pushingroad program of reform, Gorbachev fray intern! to increase pressureburo members Jo go'aJpng with his program for domestic reyltallzatioti. Combined with other-moves to broaden the arena and scope of policy discussion, Gorbachev's encouragement of Sakharov to air his views publiclyacklash among conservatives wary'of carrying openness too far and opposed to various other elements of Gorbachev's domestic strategy.

7

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA