Created: 6/1/1981

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible


Review of Soviet Internal Affairs1 (u)


Polish crisis continued to produce ripples on ihe normally placid surface of Soviet political life during ihe past three months. The failure of the Kremlin's remedies io redress ihe deicrioraiing situation in Warsawhas created uncertainty in ihe Politburo and ledecision no! iooutine Central Committee plenum in lute June. As yet, there is no solid evidence that Ihe Politburo is split over Poland, as it was over Czechoslovakiahe leadership, however, has displayed signs of tension over how best to deal wilh its domestic problems in light of Polish devclopmenisjJJ


the Polish problem becoming more acute and US-Soviet relations stalemated, Soviet ideologues have crankedampaisn to increase vigilance and tighlcn internal security. Meanwhile, element* within ihe party'arc playing on Russian nationalism and chauvinism, and Moscow is signaling its intention to match US military programs regardless of the cost. Yet. while the general line has become moreome important Politburo leaders continue to appeal for greater official responsiveness to public opinion and increased attention to consumer nccdsj

Under such conditions of stress even minor differences ir, approach can develop into full-blown policy debates. Over the years the Brezhnevhasemarkable capacity for continuity. Po'tcy changes and personnel turnover have occurredlacial pace. But the Polish crisis poleniially posesundamental threat to Soviet power thai "lifes the Soviets say, may force the aged Soviet leaders to adjust their old policies to new political realities in the difficult months ahcao. In such an environment, new political alignments may well emerge in Moscow.

rs IUI

review is oneeries. It is based onnd analysts availablehe contributions art uncoordinated, representing the views of theamed at the end of each section. Comments are welcome and may be addressed to the 8J

rs III)

of Soviet Internal Affairs

1 MM

domestic Politics

Turn to the Right

Not surprisingly, the dominant theme of Soviet propaganda during this period has been the need to batten the hatches at home. In an effort to prevent the erosion of internal discipline, the regime hasrontal assault on "antisocial" attitudes, imposed further quarantine measures to limit the population's exposure to foreign influences, tightened emigration procedures, and arrested allandful of the few remaining dissident*.


igious "vestiges: pcoplejj

This rear-guard action hasrajor conference of ideologists at which Party Secretary Suslov denounced "alien" ideologies snd called for the "strictest control" over labor; the meeting was followed by similar conferences in the national republics. Further. BrcchnevGB conference that received prominent play in the media,pate of articles by high-level KGB officials, ideologicalnd [arty spokesmen in the republics warned against the dangers of "bourgeoiseligious "vestigesend "nihilistic" behavior on the part of young)


move io associate the regime even more closely than before with Russian nationalism underpins these repressive measures. One manifestation of the tilt toward Russian nationalism was thetentatively by Brezhnev ath Party Congress in February butore pointed formulation by SusJov inprotecting the rights of "minorities" (in this context, Russians) in non-Russian areas. Other indications were attacks on "cosmopolitans" in the Writers' Union and heightened emphasis on 'jams lo promote Russian language usage in ths. non-Russian republics.


during other periods of international tension, the regime's appeal to Russian national sentiment appears intended to mobilize the core of llic population in supportardline policy toward the United Stales and. implicitly, for the material sacrifices this policy requires. Examples of this effort were Ihe statements in June of Defense Minister Ustinov and his deputy Ku'.ikov on the anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of the USSR, comparing the contemporary struggle against US "imperialism with the historic struggle against Hitler. In this context, recent moves to refurbish Stalin's image takepecial political


Bui ihc current emphasis on nationalist themes goes beyond the glorification of Russian history and culture lo the advocacy of economic andpolicies favoring Russian interests a; the expense of some of the




EMMbll (I)

republics. Regime spokesmen have recently assigned an even higher priority than in Ihe past to increasing investment in the Russian republic'sone, as well as urging the acceleratedentumber of Siberian economic projects. Several leaders now are backing an approach to the Soviet Unions manpower problems that entail* large-scale migration of workers frum labor-rich Central Asia to labor-scarce Russian areas targeted for rapid development. This approach runs counter to the practice of recent years, when the regime in effect opted to build new industry in Ihe Central Asian republics rather than attempting to lure Moslem workers lo jobs in older and culturally alien industrial areas in the Soviet heartland. |

Dhisten Within ihe Leadership?

Although the general direction of policy has been toward raising the level of co:rcion in Soviet society and renswing appeals to Russian national in-tcreits, someSuslov and evidently his Secretariat col-leasueendorsed this approach with rwticular vigor. OtherBrezhnev, Party Secretary Chernenko. and Georgian party bosscushioned calls for vigilance with aaltitude toward popular grievances, advocacy of an increase in intrapartynd emphasis on the need to placate consumer interests. Many of the proposals thai one or another has advanced, such as to expand ihe role of trade unions, arc lacking in specificity and may be largely cosmetic gestures. In addition, some steps lhai have been taken, such as the creation of commissions io study public opinion and (lie campaign to tay greater attention to letters from citizens, may complement rather than contradict steps to strengthen control mechanisms. Nevertheless, even:hat have been advanced as laciical concessions to societal pMMVRi for change could constitute the nucleusrogram from which moreproposals for institutional reform mil

Moreover, public discussion of oneof resource allocationa diversity of views among Soviet leaders that suggests ihc existence of important policy differences. While Brezhnev and Chernenko have treated the consumer sector as the central focus ofpolicy, other leaders have given it only nominal support. Suslov, in particular, has soft-pedaled Brezhnev's "fooderided -petit-bourgeois, consumcrist" elements, and fallen back on the time-honored argument that production of consumer goods can best be increased by drawing on local "reserves."







Polish siluaiion has created new strains on Soviet resources, both because the weakened Polish economy requires propping upand because the Soviet military probably is pushing for accelerated defense spending to compensate for the perceived unreliability of Polandarsaw Pact ally. As the competition for shrinking resources intensifies between different regions and sectors of the Soviet economy, frictions within the leadership may also increased

Under these circumstances, it is possible that one or another contender for the succession will ally himself with regional leaders resisting increased investment in the RSFSR. By our reading. Chernenko would appear to be the most likely candidate for this role. Unlike Suslov, he has nottrong pro-Russian bias in his statements on nationality policy. Unlik; the more "junior" leaders, Romanov. Dolgikh. and Solomentscv. tic has had no career identification with RSFSR interests. Unlike lOrilcnko, hetrong regional base of support within the party and is presumably eager to build one. Moreover. Chernenko's advocacy of consumer interestsreater responsiveness to popular demands probablyesponsive chordumber of leaders in the Central Asian ani Caucasian republics, some ofthe Georgian Shevardnadze, Kirgiz party chief Usubaliycv. and Azerbaydzhan leaderto have gone out of their way to boost Chernenko's imai


regional leaders, concerned primarily with local problems rather than Soviet global strategy, may also be receptive to foreign policy initiatives that offer the prospect of reducing international tension, thus enabling the country to devote greater attention and resources to urgent domestic needs. In this connection, the relative moderation of Chernenko's recent public statements concerning policy toward Afghanistan and ihe United States, a; well as his unorthodox repudiation of the notion that nuclear warrational,uggests theof his trying to capitalize on such sentiment


is not clear whether differing leadership approaches to domesticpolicy differences over Poland. The Politburo's decision not to holdbefore the Supreme Soviet met in late June suggests thatis uncertain how to proceed in

Central Committee members had anoviet letter sent to the Polish Central Committee in early June. Such an irregular action as the Politburo's circulating the letter for Central Commit tec comment would itself imply uncertainty. If this was the case, it is conceivable that adverse reactions from members of the Central Commute, impelled the Politburo to back off fromlenum. It is not credible

rs [Ul

however, that any significant number of Central Committee members wouldPolitburo policy unless it became known that one or more Politburo members themselves dissented from that policy!


Economic Affairs




a result of its military commitment in Afghanistan, the potential for another in Poland, and an increase in US military spending, the Soviet leadership is reportedly revisinglan to accommodate large increases in defense allocations. Such increases can only come at tbc expense of Soviet consumers.

rs IUI

domestic economy is continuing to falter this year. So far, industry has failed to recover from last year's poor performance, and cold, wet-weather this spring has already put the goalillion-ton grain crop virtually beyond reach. With food shortages continuing, the potential for scattered incidents of unrest remains high. Although major civil strife (as in Poland) is unlikely, continued stringencies will almost certainly negate the current effort of the Soviet regime to raise labor productivity]

rs IS)

Original document.

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