Soviet press warms to United States. THE VIEW FROM MOSCOW
The Moscow sun, as if following a cue in the summit scenario, yesterday finally broke through the gray cloud that has hung over the city during the dreary buildup to winter. The signing of the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, broadcast live on Soviet television Tuesday night, has definitely brightened the official Soviet stance on the United States. There are no signs of a ``Reagan fever'' developing here, but there is recognition of the President's new distance from the extreme right and his responsiveness to public opinion.Skip to next paragraph
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The weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta yesterday cited the White House apology to peace demonstrators for the cold reception given to their ``peace bridge'' on the eve of the summit. Different publications have quoted the President's televised comments about opponents of the INF treaty and their belief that nuclear war between the superpowers is unavoidable.
Still, cautious notes are also being sounded. Press spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov, writing in Sovietskaya Kultura, points out that five of the six Republican presidential candidates oppose the arms agreement. ``This means,'' he writes, ``that not everyone in America has understood the suicidal nature of nuclear war.''
Mr. Gerasimov also speculates that the beginning of nuclear disarmament may result in a compensatory increase in conventional weapons. Arms manufacturers are preparing for their own perestroika (restructuring), he claims.
But Gerasimov ends his comments by saying that there are not yet any ``concrete arguments'' against the next step in arms control: The reduction of strategic nuclear weapons. ``There are doubts about the reality of its attainment in the short time left to this administration,'' he writes, ``but even the President has expressed optimism. This means there is political will on both sides.''
In the warm glow of the summit, it appears that a new level of honesty about American life may be possible for the Soviet press. A travelogue by Alexander Avdeenko which accompanied Gerasimov's commentary, although full of ironic contrasts, admits that there is more to America than rock music and jazz. Free concerts by symphony orchestras are not at all rare, he writes. He expresses surprise that a concert in Central Park was given by the New York Philharmonic, under Zubin Mehta, ``not just anyone.'' ``Can you recall anything like it in any of our parks of culture?'' he asks.
In this regard it is ironic that US reporters working in Moscow must still put up with misinformation from official spokesmen, for example Yuri Gremitskikh's assertions on Tuesday that CNN reporter Peter Arnett had ``behaved like a hooligan'' while trying to cover a demonstration of Jewish refuseniks over the weekend.
Unofficial Soviets have registered surprise and appreciation for President Reagan's warm reception of their leader. Although the President's proverb about the harvest and the dew sent educated Russians searching for their dictionaries and was not widely understood, overall, one said, ``Reagan was trying to please.'' ``My mother-in-law listened very carefully - she liked the way he brought in God.'' Using yet another, better-known proverb, she said ``everything's going as if on butter'' (wonderfully).
Another sign of the growing understanding between the two countries is the Neil Simon play ``Biloxi Blues,'' which opened last week in a theater studio run by actor Oleg Tabakov. It is a sign of the times that a Moscow audience, admittedly a sophisticated one, could sit through a play about anti-Semitism, the brutality of Army training, homosexuality, and the faithlessness of women left behind - and seemingly identify with all the problems.