The Soviet View of the Dissident Problem Since Helsinki
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DISSEMINATION CONTROL ABBREVIATIONS
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I. The Dissident
A allying Point for Soviet
Il Food Shortages and
C Morale Problemi in the Military
Attack from the Eurocommunisls
US Human Rights
The Soviet View of the Dissident Problem Since Helsinki
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When ihe Soviets signed the CSCfi accords inhey lookcalculated risk that their acceptance of Basket Hi would not create serious internal difficulties for Ihem. Since Helsinki, however, several developments have heightened the concern of Soviel authorities about dissent within their society.
The human rights provisions of Basket IIIallying point for Soviet dissidents withwide range of views and concerns, thus raising the specter for theime in many yearsnified "opposition."
Unrest in Eastern Europe grew, particularly in Poland. East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, increasing chronic Sovici fearspillover into the Soviet Union itself.
The EuTOCommunisis. including Ihc once docile French Communist Party, became much more outspoken in their criticism of Soviet repression.
The new US administration's human rights campaign angered Soviet authorities, who fear being put in the dock this summer at the Belgrade review conference, and heartened Soviet dissidents, who were temporarily emboldened to more vigorous and open protests.
Since ihe bad harvestood shortages have existedany places in the Soviet Union. Widespread grumblingsolated instances of active protest have increased Soviet
. apprehension lhat economic discontentass level might provide the small group of intellectual dissidentsopular
j base. The few instances of violence may have also made Soviet
j authorities fearfulfreer movement of ideas and people" could introduce into Soviet society new and more threatening
, forms of protest, such as terrorism, and could leadeneral
j erosion of discipline.
bjectively. Soviet dissent docs not appear toerious threat to the Soviet system. But Soviet authorities are extremely security minded, and
they evidentlyreater danger than exists in fact. In recent months the Soviets have approached issues of ideology and social control in an increasingly conservative manner. This conservatism has been manifested in reported Soviet pressure on some East European governments toougher line with regard to dissent, in pressure on the Euiocom munis is to cease their "carping" about human rights violations in bloc countries, in resistance to Western "interference" in Soviet internal affairs, and in somewhat harsher treatment of dissidents within Ihe Soviet Union.
onsiderable extent, these efforts have been successful. The Soviets have persuaded both Ihe Eurocommunists and Western governments to moderaie their criticisms, if only for the time being. Easi European regimes, although employing differing tactics against dissidents, have tended to close ranks with ihe Soviet Union in the face of Western criticism- whether emanating from Communists orhe Soviets are uneasy about Ihe ability of the Polish regime to keep the lid on popular unrest, but tlicy probably remain reasonably confident that no bast European regime will turn "revisionist" to the extent of throwing in its lot with dissident elements, as happened in Czechoslovakiaeanwhile, the euphoria with which mosl Soviet dissidents initially welcomed US public expressions of concern about their plight is fading in the wake of Ihe Vance visit to Moscow, which they had hoped would somehow improve their situation.
Given these successes, it is unlikely that the Soviets will see the needeal wilh their dissident problem in more drasticenewal of Western criticism, combinedurther increase in internal dissent, could lead to some further ideological tightening, if necessary at the cost of damaging their relations wilh Western countries. And the Soviets would not hesitate to reactajor explosion in Eastern Europe with mililary force. Clearly, however, the Soviet leadership has no desire, if indeed it has the power, to reinstitute the Stalinist terror apparatus. Although the
developments since Helsinki have raised doubts in the minds of some leaders, most Soviet leaders probablyundamental faith in the basic loyalty of the bulk of the Soviet population. Their belief in the superiority and success of their system probably makes them generally confident of their ability to keep dissent within manageable limits by continued carrot-and-stick tactics, without reverting to Draconian measures.
The Soviet View of the Dissident Problem Since Helsinki
When the Soviets signed the CSCE accords inheyalculated risk that their acceptance of Basket III would not create serious internal difficulties for them. Since Helsinki, however, several developments have heightened the concern of Soviet authorities about dissent within their society.'
I. The Dissident Problem
A.allying Point for Soviet Dissidents First of all, the human rights provisions ofommon ground for Soviet dissidentside range of views and concerns, thus raising the specter for the first time in many yearsnifiedasic weakness of Soviet intellectual dissent, especially in the last few years, has been its lack of unity, both in an organizational androgrammatic sense. Most Soviet intellectual dissidentselief in "humanut this fundamental commitment has often been inadequately articulated, and overshadowed by the substantial differences existing between dissidents. In addition, most religious and national minorities have tended to define their goals narrowly, failing to relate them to the all-union struggle for civil liberties. CSCE stimulated cooperation among many of these groups.
The most important dissident group to emerge in the Soviet Union since Helsinki, the "Public Group Furthering the Implementation of the Helsinki Agreement in thexemplified the new tendency to draw together. This group, often called the "Orlov group" after its leading figure, physicist Yury Orlov, was set up in Moscow in6 for the express purpose of monitoring Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Accords. During the last year, branches of the Orlov group were set up in the Ukraine,Armenia, Georgia, and Leningrad. These branches were tiny-undcrembers each-and the degree of coordination between them is not known, but the emergenceissident organisationetwork of "cells" throughout the country is unique in recent Soviet history.
More important, the Orlov group, by espousing the causes of aof Soviet dissidents, established some claim to being the center ofprotest movement. This unifying function is not entirelyhasimilar role, as has Khronika, the chief Soviet
journal. But Sakharovone individual, and Khronika has
1. The mcojOu ind wtakiKstej of Soviet diuenl >ir covered in
memorandum, *TneSpectnirn of Soviet Diiiem
eportohal rather than an organizational function, while the Orlov group established extensive contacts with other protest elements.
Symptomatic of the new coordination among dissident groupsublic appeal on Marcho President Carter issued byeople from three different dissident groups: the Orlov group and Sakharov, whose wifeember of this group; theundamentalist Christian sect; and the Refuscniks, as Jews denied permission to emigrate are called. Especially noteworthy was the participation of the Refuscniks. Although individual Jews haveajor role in intellectual dissent in the Soviet Union, the Refuscniks have been concerned almost exclusively with the specific issue of Jewish emigration, evidently seeing little advantage in associating their particular causearger one. They have previously not attempted to liberalize the system, but merely to escape It.
Groups seeking to emulate the Jewish example by applying to emigrate from the Soviet Union are becoming particularly importanteservoir of support for the human rights movement. The Helsinki provisions encouraging free emigration have given impetus to the emigration impulse, as has the movement of Germans from East Germany to West Germany. Ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union appear to be applying lo emigrate in ever increasing numbers.2 the Soviets have allowed0 Germans to leave the Soviet Union, as partolicy permitting German emigration for purposes of family reunification. But many of theillion Germans who lack family ties to West Germany, and thus are not eligible to emigrate, also want to leave. In March, forroup of ethnic Germans denied permission lo emigrateemonstration in Red Square. Soviel officials who are grapplinginiscalc with the same problem that East Germany facesarge scale may share ihc frustration of an East German official who grumbled recently thai "after Helsinki, they think they can go anywhere theyhe Soviets may also be concerned that the emigration fever will spread to other groups. In some cases, whole villages or communities of religious dissenters have sought to emigrate. Most recently, in7 an entire Pentecostal church congregation from Krasnodar Kray came to Moscow and applied for exit permits.
Other religious and ethnic groups have also become more politicized in recent yean, and the Orlov group has associated itself with many of their grievances. The group's first formal protest, for example, dealt with the sentencing of Crimean Tatar dissident Mustafa Dzhemilev. in distant Omsk. Dzhemilev bad championed the right of his people, who had been deported to Central Asiao return to their homeland. The Orlov group
etition calling for Dzhemilev's release from prison, said to have been signed by as manyrimean Tatars, (Crimean Tatar dissidents have said they hope toepresentative at the Belgrade reviewhe Orlov group also defended the Evangelical Baptists-who are said lo be excited about the prospect ofreal Baptist" in the White House-and may have endeared themselves to Ukrainian nationalists by pledging to campaign for representation of the Ukrainian republic, an "Independent" member of the United Nations, at Belgrade.
Although this incipient support from religious and national minorities in itselfotentialass base for human rights activists, the intellectuals remain estranged from the bulk of the working class population. Cooperation between workers and intellectuals is doubtless impeded by the general failure of the intelligentsia to articulate lower class grievances concerning living standards and material welfare. Working class discontent, which has basically economic rather than political objectives, has thus not converged with human rights activism in the Soviet Union.
B. Food Shortages and Unrest
Soviet apprehension that political and economic grievances could drawcloser together, that Soviet dissent could follow the path of Poland,vidently grown since the bad harvestlthough the supply ofas increasedhortages of meat and vegetables continue in many places in the Soviet Union. No significant improvement in the food supply is expected until the summer harvest.
Consumerism isotent political force in the Soviet Union, as it is in many East European countries, but consumer expectations have risen in recent years. The Soviet population has come toradual improvement in the standard of living. Recently, an official in Magadan, complaining to Moscowrivate conversation about the food supply in his province, remarked that the people in his area had developed the "habit" of eating anay. The food shortages, aggravated by an inefficient distribution system, have caused widespread grumbling. Over the last yearalf, there have been reports and rumors, most of them unconfirmed,umber of instances of active unrest and protest.1
2. Example* of tbete (union and repot it:
ocal parly minting at Vologda wu dimpledemount at Ion piotetnng foodbe militia deepened ibe demon Kratnr*.
In Kratnomattky refuted to work until they wen supplied with meat.
one-day ibike0 work en protesting food diortagei look placeire planl
b wmr reason tosuipcct (hat labor onreii may hive occurred in Murmanik.
Tallin warehouse containing meat scheduled foe shipment elsewhere bs the Sovietburned,
stoppage*rotest food diorutgci occurred in ULi.
ock worked in Rigarlke io protest meat shortages.
Sellout disluibances" look place In Icniagrod factories in proteii of the meat shortage.
The only serious incident of violcnl sabotage in protest of the food shortages that we know took place occurred in Moscow in January, when three homemade bombs exploded on the same day, the most damaging oneetro station. The perpetrators were reportedly young men from Tula, who came to Moscow to buy food on the weekend, and found the food stores closed. Last year, many Moscow food outlets began closing on Sunday, presumably to present nonresidents from shopping in Moscow on their day off.
A few other violent incidents not necessarily related to economic conditions have occurred, especially in the turbulent republic of Georgia. Notably, there have reportedly been several assassination attempts on Shevamadze, the head of the Georgian Communist Party, and inomb exploded in the Georgian Council of Ministers building. The violence in Georgia is probably related, at least in part, to Shevarnadze's campaign against crime and corruption, but nationalist passion against Russification policies runs high in Georgia, and the possibilityolitical motivation behind some of the violence and turmoil in that republic certainly cannot be excluded.
fact that the leaders have thus far not taken emergency measures available to them to alleviate the food shortages-such as purchasing large quantities of meat abroad-suggests that they have considered the food situation manageable. Clearly, however, they have been worried about the mood in the country.!
official to watch the temper of the people closely. Brezhnev's trip to TuL, where hepeech in January, was reportedly prompted by workers' active dissatisfaction with the lack of goods.
_|And the authorities lents were involved in the metro bombing.
The scattered instances of violence which have occurred have not been connected with dissident activities, and the authorities probably know this.
dissidents, for their part, have wholeheartedly disavowed any connection with violent activities, believing that they are vulnerable as potential scapegoats. Thus, Sakharov charged Soviet authorities with bombing the Moscow metro stationrovocation, rather dramatically comparing the incident to the Reichstag fireewish dissidents in Moscow have expressed shock and revulsion at the violent actions of Jewish extremists in New York City. They believe that such actions can only hurt their position.
some reporting suggests that the Soviet leadership may not always distinguish clearly between different sorts of criticism. Some Soviet officials may vaguely sense some connection between intellectual dissent and popular discontent.
Morale Problems in the Military
Official apprehensioneneral erosion of discipline couldin Soviet society may also be fed by continuing morale problems inarmedwo recent incidents dramatized these problems:and attempted escape to Sweden in5 of aa ship in theMIG pilot
Belenko last September.
distortion of disciplinary
desertion, and suicide are serious problems, and arc rccognired as suchevel officials.
i In an effort to combat morale
and discipline problems. Defense Minister Ustinov has placed greater emphasis on political and ideological uidoctrination in the military.
Under Attack from the Lure-communists
After Helsinki the Eurocommunists, including the once docile French Communist Party, became much more outspoken in their criticism of Soviet internalhe Spanish party has gone furthest, but the French and Italianof their influence and their greater chance of coming to power-pose the more serious problem for the Soviets. From the Soviet perspective, the chief importance of Eurocommunism is not (hat it has
Soviet influence in West European Communist parties, but that itarxist alternative to the Soviet model in Eastern Europe, and perhaps ultimately within the Soviet Union itself. Moscow has also been upset by Eurocommunist support lo dissidents in Eastern Europe.
Over the last several years, electoral considerations have increased the desire, and greater domestic sources of financing have increased the ability, of the French and Italian parties to assert their independence from Moscow and their acceptance of Western political traditions. Specific events5 gave impetus to this trend. The antidemocratic actions of the pro-Soviet Portuguese Communist Party impelled the Eurocommunists to shore up their crcdibility by putting new stress on their own commitment to political freedom and their patriotism.
Since5 the Italian Communist Party has permitted its press to reprint items critical of the Soviet Union lhat had previously appeared in non-Communist newspapers. At the French Communist Party Congress inhe French renounced two doctrines that once served as articles of faith for the international Communist movement: "proletarian internationalism" (which the Soviets have taken to imply Soviet domination) and "dictatorship of the proletariat" (one-partyince that time the two parties have been more critical of the Soviet Union than at any time since the aftermath of the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Their denunciationseak in January of this year, when both Marchais and Betlinguer spoke out strongly against human rights violations in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Particularly embarrassing to the Soviets was an unprecedented visit in late January of an Italian Communist delegation to dissident Marxist Roy Medvedev in Moscow. The Italians presented Medvedev with an Italian edition of one of his books and reportedly asked him to write articles for an Italian party historical journal.
Unrest in Eastern Europe
The growth of unrest in Easternspecially in Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia has increased chronic Soviet fearspillover into the Soviet Union Itself. The Polish situation, in particular, has many of the earmarksrevolutionaryragile economyegime whose sufferance depends on its ability to satisfy growing consumerilitary which might not prove reliableomesticenerally hostile population, and, most important, an assertive working class whose interests are defended by two other etements-the Church and the intellectuals.
If the lid should blow in Poland, the Soviets would have good cause to expect repercussions elsewhere in the bloc. CSCEatalytic effect on East European dissent, which hasovement cutting across national borders. The Czechoslovak dissident cause.hich hasanifesto on human rights signed by several hundred Czechoslovak intellectuals, has to some extent servedcgpoint for protest in other countries, including the Sovici Union itself. Sixty-two Soviel dissidentstatement supporting the Chartists in early March.
In addition, accordingecent report dissidents in severaluropean countries, including the Soviet Union, are evidently coordinating their activitiesimitedontacts between Polish and Soviet dissidents dale from the, and emissaries from Poland are now being sent periodically to Moscow, Leningrad. Kiev, Vilnius, and Kaunus to coordinate actions and to supply Soviet dissidents with Western literature. The same report indicates that Lithuanian and Polish Catholic students also maintain contacts with each other, as do Polish Catholics and Ukrainianyzantineho recognize the authority of the Pope in Rome, and are closely associated with Ukrainian nationaleading Polish clergymen, including the head of the Polish Catholic church, arc reportedly sympathetic to Ukrainian Uniate congregations.
Soviet authorities have always been alert to the dangerolitical "virus" from Eastern Europe spreading into the polyglot borderlands of the Soviet Union. The intermingling of nationalities in some of these areas, as well as their geographic proximity to Eastern Europe, make them more susceptible to influences from lhat quarter.8 sympathy for the Czechoslovaks created enough unrest in the Ukraine to make party officials there jittery. There is evidence that the Soviet leadership's familiarity with Ukrainian conditions and its fearomino-effect were factors in the decision to invade Czechoslovakia.
F. The US Human Rights Initiative
A final reason for heightened Soviet concern about the dissident problem was the new US administration's human rightsfficial US protests about Soviet repression, and especially the personal involvement of President Carter in public appeals on behalf of Soviet dissidents, angered Soviet authorities, who already feared being put in the dock this summer at the Belgrade review conference. At the same time, the US human rights
M of Ihc ditttdcMl mentioned in this report at beingoordination wtOi dHUdents In Other countries It East German Professor Haveminn. who at early4 evidently had dote contacts with hading academics in Use Soviet Union, Including Bonrfil Kcdiov. until recently chairman of the Soviet Institute of Philosophy.
offensive heartened Soviet dissidents, and temporarily emboldened them to make more vigorous protests and to channel their appeals directly to the US administration.
II. The Soviet Response
In the face of these related pressures, the Sovietsountcroffensive on all fronts. In recent months the Soviet approach to issues of ideology and social control has been increasingly conservative. This conservatism has been manifested in reported pressure on some East European governments toougher line with regard to dissent, in pressure on the Eurocommunists to cease their "carping" about human rights violations in bloc countries, in bitter criticism of Western "interference" in Soviet internal affairs, and in somewhat harsher treatment of dissidents within the Soviet Union.
A. In Eastern Europe
Over the last six months, the Soviets have been less interested inniform policy toward dissent on all the East European regimes than in insisting that these regimes somehow come to grips with the problem on their own. Increasingly, however, their mounting concern over unrest in Eastern Europe has reportedly been translated into pressure on the more moderate regimes toarder line toward dissidents. Of the regimes which haveelatively moderate approach, Poland is more vulnerable to pressure than Hungary, since no serious unrest exists in Hungary.
Soviet concern over the dissident problem was reportedly manifest at the Warsaw Pact summit in late November in Bucharest. At this meeting Hungarian party chief Kadar and East German party head Honcckcr argued about how best to handle dissent. Consistent with their past policies, Honecker arguedougher policy, while Kadarofter approach. The Soviets may have preferred toack seat, letting Honecker make the case for harsher tactics, but the Soviet position during this period is not clear. Kadarrip to Moscow in December, and reportedly won Brezhnev's approval for preservationoderate line.
At the mid-December meeting of Warsaw Pact ideological officials in Sofia, the participants again disagreed, not only about policy toward dissidents, but also about what measures should be taken against elements sympathetic to Eurocommurdsl ideas within East European parties. The Soviets reportedly lined up with the East Germans, Czechoslovaks, and Bulgarians against the Hungarians, while the Poles stood somewhere between the two extremes.
As late as February, however, the Soviets were still thrashing about in searchatisfactory approach. In that month CPSU Central Committee Secretary Kapitonov traveled to Prague, where he reportedly criticized the Czechoslovaks on two counts: for not moving soon enough against the Chartists to nip the movement in the bud; and for (hen overreacting to the Chartist problem with heavyhanded repression, thereby stirring up more dissent. Husak must have felt that he was "damned if he did, and damned if hehe impression conveyed is that Moscow expected the Czechoslovaks to solve their problems but that the Soviets themselves hardly knew what sort of action was required.
At least by early March, when East European ideology secretaries met again in Sofia, it appears that the Soviets decided to come down in favorough approach. They dispatched three Central Committee secretaries-Ponomarev, Zimyanin. and Katushev-to this meeting, an indication of the importance they attached to it. Most reporting indicates that the Soviets pressed harder than previouslyolicy of firm repression. Although the Hungarians once again defended their more flexible line, the Soviets reportedly argued for tough action. The Poles, who also were not enthusiastic aboutrackdown, have reportedly been pressed by both the Soviets and the Czechoslovaks since the conference.
B. The Eurocommunism
In an effort to bring the Eurocommunists to heel, the Soviets have since January used every lever available to them, including the "power of thend the threat of compromising some West European parties by revealing details of their past collaboration with Moscow. The Soviets have even raised the possibility of attempting to infiltrate and split recalcitrant parties.
It is possible that some Soviet leaders have reached the end of their patience with the Eurocommunists. and have decided that for their own interests in Eastern Europe it is more desirable to have small loyal parties in Western Europe than large rebellious ones. Ponomarev in early February, referring to Berlinguermonstrouseportedly staled that it would be "worthless" for the PCI to come to power by means of an elcclion. Ponomarev indicated thai he regarded the Eurocommunists as the main prop for East European dissidents, and believed their ideas were infecting Ihc entire Communist movement.
At the Sofia meeting in December, the Soviets are reported to have expressed the opinion that although the influence ofthe Eurocommunists was growing, this influence was of questionable value because the
Eurocommunists had rcnoiinced ihe principle ol' the "dictatorship of thehe Soviets also apparently raised the possibility of attempting to split some West European parties, and they may have made good their thrcat. Whether or not the Soviets were directly involved, one Western party has already divided. In late February the doctrinaire faction of the Swedish Communist Partyew pro-Soviet party; the split came over the issue of human rights. Finnish Communist Party leaders have long suspected that Moscow is providing stronger backing to the Stalinist wing of their party.
The Soviets also have tried to influence the Eurocommunists by peer pressure. In early January,ecret meeting in Moscow of pro-Soviet West European Communist parties, Suslov reportedly rallied the faithful to the banner of "proletariannd warned them against being seduced by Eurocommunist ideas. The Soviets have relied heavily on the loyal Austrian Communist Party to make representations for them, and sent Cunhal of Portugalour of European capitals to drum up support for their human rights stand- They even employed the head of the Uruguay Communist Party, reportedly to remind the Eurocommunists that they were only one portionarger, international movement centered in Moscow.
Moscow also employed more direct pressure, especially on the Italian Communistoviet delegation to Italy in January reportedly threatened to expose publicly past support of the Italian party for Soviet activities, which could prove embarrassing to the party, if the Italians did not cut back their criticism of Soviet internal policies. Having brandished the stick, the Soviets produced the carrot. Later in January they reportedly offered generous funding to an Italian party delegation to Moscow, provided the Italians would tone down their criticism. At this meeting Ponomarcv threatened the Italian delegationublic condemnation, vowing that "if you don't stop, we will attack youeportedly, the Soviets also threatened to cut off funding of the Danish Communist Party if itfoolish" position on the human rights issue. The Danes were reminded bluntly that without Soviet support, they would amount to "zero."
C. The US
Meanwhile, the Soviets reacted to US public efforts to intercede on behalf of beleaguered Soviet dissidents in an uncompromising manner, not only by public denunciations of US "interference" in Soviet internal affairs, but also by taking actions against some of the dissidents specifically mentioned in US public protests.
Although the Soviets|iaves alarmed and angry as their public pronouncements made them appear, they were clearly taken aback and at
initially confused by the new US administration's concentration on the human rights issue. |
the intensity with which the US administration raisedhad surprised and disturbed the Soviet leadership.Andropov reportedly told histhat the
leadership found President Carter's statcnicnTsonineissue "bewildering."
wasearch for ulterior motives behind the US attention to the human rights tlieme.
Brezhnev and other leaders had "closed minds" about the human rights controversy.
cnaDcea up the human rights "campaign" to President Carter'sailure to recognize the structural limits to the flexibility of the Soviet system, and "misunderstanding" of the differing historical experiences of the Russian and American people. Others claimed to see the "campaign" as an effort by the President to improve his domestic political position,actical move to lower Soviet prestige in the eyes of the world.
others may have believed their own propaganda, and regarded the human rights offensiveeliberate effort at subversion by the US. This was one view put out by Soviet officials in |conversations with Western and East Kuropcantaff menu
| told a|
President's letter to
Sakharovundamental effort to undermine the Soviet system. Hungarian
party officials indicated tothc human
rights issue was seen by the Soviets^^noreaamaguigtoaov relations than the Vietnam war had been, because "then you were bombing Hanoi, but now you are bombing Moscow."
charge of subversion was also adopted by Soviet propagandists. Onzvestia attacked two former US embassy officers and one current officer (all of themn the basis of their contacts with Jewish dissidents in Moscow, Izvestia charged these officers with engaging in espionage. In February several Jewish dissidents were arrested while entering the US embassy with embassy officers, whose company had previously
afforded them protection. In January, for the first timeS newsman was expelled from the Soviet Union, probably because of his contacts with dissidents, Meanwhile, the major Leningrad daily implied that the contacts of the West German consul general with dissidents also constituted involvement in espionage. In this way, the Soviets attempted to limit the access of Westerners in the Soviet Union to the dissident community.
D. Internal Repression
The current campaign against dissent, however, predates the change in US administrations. It had its origin in the Soviet desire to clean house and silence the dissidents before the Belgrade review conference was convened. Indeed, some dissidents have charged that the climate in the Soviet Union worsened immediately after, andirect result of, the signing of the Helsinki Accords. Bukovsky, among others, charged that conditions in his prison "tangibly worsened" after Helsinki. Particularly ominous have been suggestions that violence and threats of violence against dissidents have increased since Helsinki. There have been several mysterious "accidental" deaths, and more than the usual number of beatings and anonymous death threats.
The US administrations statements defending Soviet dissidents apparently did lead to an acceleration of the crackdown. Since the tum of the year, the Soviets have moved to cripple the Orlov group and its regional subgroups, arresting leading members, encouraging others to emigrate, harassing or threatening others.
In addition, the Soviets have^recently made efforts to link theith espionage activities. Earlymonth the mother of recently arrested Jewish dissident Shcharansky was toW by prison officials that her son"might" be tried for treason. The Izvestia article which accused US embassy officers of engaging in espionage made similar charges against several Jewish dissidents on the basis of their contacts with US officials. And in early March,emarche to Ambassador Toon, First Deputy Foreign Minister Komiyenko used unusually threatening language against Sakharov, denouncing himnd an "enemy of thelmost certainly, the use of such language iscare tactic. Although several dissidents were questioned as lo their whereabouts on the day of the metroS newsman was unofficially told that the authorities did not intend to charge dissidents with this act. Not since Stalin has an intellectual dissident been tried for treason.
Even during the last few months, the Soviets haveew conciliatory gestures. Last month Jewish dissident Shtern was released from
prison before his lerm was up, and Leningrad dissident Borisnv was releasedsychiatric hospital. The authorities continue to allow some dissidents to emigrate, and lo try lo win over those on the fringes of the dissidenl movement. Recentlyave attempted to co-opt "unofficial" artists into the system by relaxing restrictions on unconventional art and by offering some of the artists membership in official artists' unions. Thisontroversial symbolist play, suppressed forecade, was allowed to openoscow theater.
III. urrent Asssessmcnl
Toconsiderable extent, Soviet attempts to silence internal and external critics have paid off. The Eurocommunists have toned down their criticism, if only for the time being. Italian Communist Party Secretary Cervetii. who traveled to Moscow in late January reportedly promised the Soviets lhat the Italian party's criticism of East European violations of human rights "would not go toogreed to stop preparationarty critique of East European repression, and assured the Soviets that Bcrlmguer would try to prevent Marchais and Carrillo from using the coming "summit" between the three Eurocommunist leaderslatform to criticize the CPSU. At the Madrid summit in early March the three Eurocommunist leadersepid communique endorsing the "full application" of the Helsinki Accords without mentioning the Soviet Union or olher East European countries. The Eurocommunists will continue tohorn in Moscow's sklc, but for the moment they have succumbed to Soviet pressure and have retreated.
The US, even before the Vance visit, began to make its statements on human rights less pointed. The Soviets must also be pleased that, generally speaking. West European governments have not enthusiastically supported this aspect of US diplomacy. Reportedly, the Soviets would have regarded the human rights controversy much more seriously had West European governments unequivocally followed Washington's lead.
Even the more independent East European regimes have, like the Soviet Union, firmly rebutted Western criticism whether emanating from Communists or carn'tahsts. Support for Eurocofrunurusm in Yugoslavia and Romania is based essentiallyesire for independence from the Soviet Union, notommitment to human rights. Neither Tito nor Ceausescu is likely to accept Western Communists* tutelage in this area. The Yugoslavs and Romanians are willing to be in the same camp with the Soviets inirm policy against dissidents when the only alternative is internal instability,
In Eastern Europe ihe Soviets probably continue to find il difficult toniform tough policy. Were it not for their desire torackdown elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Kadar's continued moderation would probably not disturb them, since Hungary has no major dissident problem. But making an exception inc of Hungary weakens the Soviet caseepressive policy in Poland; the Soviets remain uneasy about Cicrek's ability to keep the lid on popular unrest. Nevertheless, they perhaps console themselves that neither Poland, Czechoslovakia, or East Germany-the three countries where unrest has beenovernment that is disloyal to the Soviets or seriously infected with Eurocommunist ideas. They probably remain reasonably confident that no East European regime will turn "revisionist" to the extent of succumbing to the pressures of dissident elements, as happened in Czechoslovakia
Meanwhile, the euphoria with which most Sovici dissidents initially welcomed US public expressions of concern about their plight is fading in the wake of the Vance visit to Moscow. Even earlier, Roy Medvedev had reportedly expressed the view that President Carter's statements were harming rather than helping theriticism which provoked Sakharov to calledvedev, however, had always disagreed with Sakharov about the value of nonsocialist Western support. More indicative of the changing moodtatement AleksandrGinsburg's wife made to US embassy officers before Vance arrived. While she applauded the US stand on human rights, she said lhat she now felt that only "quiet diplomacy" could bring Soviet authorities to release her husband. Since Vance's departure, other Soviet dissidents have been extremely depressed. They had expected much from the visit, believing that it "just must" improve their situation.
The Soviets originally believed that they could afford to permitdegree of contact between their citizens and the outside world,would never have entered into the Helsinki agreement, allowedbetween East and West Germany, or stopped jammingrs radio broadcasts to the Soviet Unionhe events of the past alf, however, have given the Soviets pause, and reason totheir policies. Some leaders have probably- decided-that acquiescence on-
I Ihe SovieTgnvcrnrruMit misjiidged the reactions of its own cltn-en^lnrJotTastcni Europe to Helsinki.
Objectively, Soviet dissent does not appear toerious threat to the Soviet system, but Soviet officials mayreater danger than
exists in fact. Both Russian history and Leninist ideology impel them to exaggerate the potential importance of opposing groups, however small. They have always been preoccupied with problems of control.
It is not merely intellectual dissent that disturbs the Soviets. They fear that the "freer movement of people and ideas" which they conceded on paper at Helsinki, and whichertain extent the circumstancesodern technological world force upon them, will open their societyhole host of ideas and influences from the West that are, in their view, not only politically subversive but socially disruptive and morally unhealthy. Identifying Western concepts of liberty with license, they are apprehensive that extensive contact with the "decadent" West will expose the Soviet people not only to alien political ideas but also to crime, terrorism, pornography, and drugs, which could combine toeneral breakdown of order and discipline. To the extenl that they arc concerned about the stagnation of their economy, the Soviets may also fear that consumer dissatisfaction willore serious political problem in future years.
Differences exist within the leadership as to how best to handle dissent. Ironically, there is some reason to suspeel that KGB chief Andropov is less inclined to move in the direction of more repression. Senior party secretary Suslov, the chief party ideologist, and Ponomarev. head of the Central Committee International Department,arder ideological line at home.
The importance the leadershiphole attaches to dissent can be seen by the fact that decisions about individual dissidents are sometimes made at the Politburo level. Over the last few years Politburo members have reportedly made the decisions on such matters as
conductor Roslropovich's applica Neizvestnys application to emigrate.
Soviet leaders probably realize they cannot eradicate dissent altogether. They could round up several dozen of the more visible dissidents and forcibly deport them, butsurgical strike" would only temporarily cnpple the dissident movement. Dissent has become endemic to Soviet society; new dissidents would appear lo replace those who had departed. Indeed, except for Sakharov, (he most important individual involved in dissent sincean who was unknown to ihe West two years ago. In anyampaigns of repression are difficult to sustain for long periods, since they run the danger of aggravating the problem they were
intended to solve. Thus, the Soviets have not attemptedsolve" their dissident problem, but merely to control itombination of coercive and conciliatory measures.
In view of their recent successes, it is unlikely that the Soviets will see the need to deal with the dissident problem in the Soviet Union in more drasticenewal of Western criticism, combinedurther increase in internal dissent, could lead to some further ideological tightening and to further restrictions on contacts between Weslerncrs and Sovici citizens, if necessary at the cost of damaging relations with Western countries. The Soviets could, for example, begin jamming Western broadcasts again, prohibit dissident meetings with Wesiern newsmen and diplomats altogether, and prevent correspondence and telephone calls from reaching dissidents.
Clearly, however, the Soviet leadership has no desire, if indeed it has the power, to move in the direction of reinslituting the Stalinist terror apparatus. The bureaucracy itself suffered greatly in the past from arbitrary and irregular proceedings, and feels more secure with the modicum of legality which now exists. Probably the most important restraint on Soviet behavior toward dissidents is the world view of Soviet leaders themselves. Although the developments since Helsinki have raised doubts about the popular mood in the minds of some leaders, most Soviet leaders probablyundamental faith thai their policies are generally accepted by the bulk of the Soviet population. Their belief in the superiority and success of their system probably makes them generally confident of their abilityeep dissent within manageable limits by continued carrot-and-stick tactics,eversion to Draconian measures.
The Soviet appraisal of the dissident problem in Eastern Europe is much more pessimistic. Last winter some Soviet leaders were probably genuinely alarmed that post-Helsinki conditions were creating an unstable situation there, especially in Poland, where the climate is still tense.ajor explosion yet occur in Eastern Europe, the Soviets would not hesitate to respond with military force, accompanied by harsh prophylactic measures against dissidents within the Soviel Union Itself.Original document.