Desertion plea for Ivans in Kabul

The latest weapons in the guerrilla war in Afghanistan are cassette tapes in Russian urging Soviet soldiers to desert, Monitor contributor Chris Mosey reports. Soldiers on the streets of Kabul are given the tapes along with small packets of marijuana.

''That's so they will be in a good mood to receive the message,'' said Atis Lejins, one of a group of Latvian exiles who produce the tapes.

The Latvians hand the cassettes over to representatives of one of the main Afghan rebel groups in West Germany. ''It is very easy to get them into Afghanistan - no problem whatsoever,'' said Mr. Lejins, who lives in Stockholm.

The tapes tell the soldiers they are not fighting Western imperialism, as they were told when they left the Soviet Union, but rather are part of Soviet expansionism. The soldiers are then advised to ''go over the line.''

''The Afghans blast these from loudspeakers on hillsides opposite Soviet barracks,'' Lejins said.

Conscripts from the Baltic states reported that marijuana is a growing problem for the Soviet Army in Afghanistan ''in much the same way it was for the Americans in Vietnam.''

The continuing war and mounting losses in the Red Army are causing growing unrest in the Baltic states and elsewhere in the Soviet Union, he said.

''They've stopped sending back the coffins now,'' he said. ''They bury them out there, but people are coming back crippled and psychologically disturbed by what they have been through.''

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