Pravda praises Poland -- but adds a warning
Moscow — It's business as usual is Poland -- at least in the pages of the Soviet press. Soviet reades are being told the Polish Communist Party is in firm control. Workers are loyal and on the job. Poland remains in staunch Soviet ally and Warsaw Pact member. The Polish party and government did make "errors," but are working to correct them.
However, Pravda and other papers make a point of adding a warning: Correcting mistakes and meeting legitimate worker demands is one thing, but "antisocialist elements" inside Poland are trying to take advantage of worker discontent. These elements must be thwarted, says the papers -- and Pravda Sept. 17 quotes a senior Polish official as saying the activity of these elements is not small.
Thus the Kremlin seems to be laying a foundation for tough action -- even an invasion -- at some point in the future if strikes and party concessions continue.
Pravda Sept. 17 published two items. The first was from a correspondent who ahd visited a factory making television sets in Warsaw, and its message was that all was well.
"The entire collective is working to fulfill the production program with a feeling of responsibility and understanding of the existing complexities and the errors that were made in socioeconomic policy," the correspondent wrote.
He conceded that discussions between workers and officials were "sometimes sharp." Meetings were being held. And he ended by quoting a worker as sending thanks to a productioin enterprise in Moscow for its help.
The second Pravda item quoted the president of the Polish State Council, H. Jablonski, that the order of the day was stabilization, not just in the overall economy but in each and every enterprise as well.
Teh social conflict of the summer had been liquidated, but the activities of "hostile forces" remained large. Everything threatening the unity of the state and the people deserved "strong rebuke."
The latest edition of the weekly magazine New Times here talks of "normal work rhythm" being resumed. A Tass news agency summary of the article openly refers to "the strike" and says, "Many work collectives . . . are pledging to compensate for the resultant lag by shock work" (crash programs). The magazine cites an auto factory that condemned party and government errors but was battling to solve the problems ahead.
The basic message of Pravda and other newspapers here lately is that Moscow is prepared to tolerate some concessions, but that there are limits. Poland must remain a socialist, one-party state in the Warsaw Pact, loyal to Moscow.
Further erosion of communist authority in Warsaw -- that is, more strikes, significant new concessions toward independent trade unions, or less press censorhip -- would deeply worry the Kremlin and brin any ultimate invasion closer.
Meanwhile, it appears that many educated Soviet readers have a fairly good idea of what has happened in Poland now, despite jamming of Russian-language broadcasts from the West. While the word "strike" has not appeared, Pravda reprinted most of the recent address by new Polish Communist Party chief Stanislaw Kania, and Russians can give a reasonably accurate account (minus some details) of the seriousness of the Polish workers' challenge to trade union authority.
Many russians also take it for granted that the West must have helped the Gdansk strikes: "How else could the workers have been so well prepared for the strike?" asks one Muscovite, who knows only what he has read in the press.