East bloc curbs peace protesters

Separate events in the Soviet bloc appear to indicate a contradiction: While the Kremlin accuses the United States of throwing a wrench in the works of nuclear disarmament, Soviet officialdom cracks down on unofficial peace initiatives within the East bloc.

The Communist Party newspaper Pravda accused the Reagan administration of sabotaging talks on banning nuclear tests and said the Soviet Union would match anything the US came up with in arms production.

The article was signed by Alexei Petrov, a pseudonym generally taken to indicate high-level authorship. President Reagan decided last month not to pursue the test ban talks, but to seek amendments to existing treaties limiting tests in order to improve verification of Soviet observance.

In Moscow, police and KGB agents arrested Sergei Batovrin, a founding member of an independent peace group, telling him he must serve in the military.

Olga Medvedkov, also a founding member of the unsanctioned and continuously harassed peace committee, said Mr. Batovrin told the police he was exempted from military service seven years ago on grounds of health. Members of the peace group have been kept under house arrest, followed, jailed for disorderly conduct , and sent away from the capital.

East Germany appears to be cracking down on an unofficial peace movement in East Berlin. The government is calling up known independent peace campaigners into the Army reserve under threat of jail, informed sources said Monday. Diplomats said the authorities may be concerned that publicity given to an independent disarmament campaign here, which has the backing of the Protestant church, may have influenced the formation of an independent peace group in Moscow.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.