Moscow polishes its human-rights image for post-Olympic diplomatic offensive
Moscow — The dazzling fireworks display that rained down green, gold, and scarlet lights on Lenin Stadium signaled more than just the end of the Moscow Olympics. It heralded a new Soviet diplomatic offensive as well.
The Soviet press and Soviet officials now cite the Olympics here as an example of how Moscow has fulfilled the Helsinki final act signed in 1975.This comes as preparations intensify for a meeting in Madrid later this year of the 35 countries that signed the final act with its human-rights provisions.
The Soviets place great value on the Madrid meeting. They know the United States and Western Europe will criticize them heavily for their troops in Afghanistan and their SS-20 missiles based in the western USSR and aimed at targets as far west as London.
In general, their strategy is to try to shift the Madrid spotlight away from the human-rights aspects of the final act -- which President Carter has just said Moscow has violated -- and toward Soviet proposals for a new European summit conference on security. Indeed, Moscow wants to appear as a champion of new moves to ease tensions.
Yet, at the same time, Moscow is expected to stress what it sees as its own compliance with "basket three" provisions of the final act on human rights. It cites the Olympics as one example. Pravda, as well the deputy head of the games organizing committee, Vladimir Popov, is stressing that the games "made a contribution to consolidating mutual understanding and friendship between peoples" as envisaged in Helsinki.
Mr. Popov, at his final daily press conference of the games Aug. 4, said the presence of so many athletes here "will help to improve the general world climate."
Meanwhile, Moscow is sure to press ahead with its other diplomatic initiatives. These include:
* A new formula for troop withdrawals from Central Europe, made at the long-stalled Vienna talks.
* The offer to begin talks on limiting medium-range missiles in Europe without first insisting that NATO suspend or cancel its decision last December to install 572 Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe aimed at the Soviet Union.