Exasperated by Washington's denunciations of its human rights record, the Soviet leadership has decided to respond in kind. A number of recent television programs and newspaper articles have depicted what they describe as harassment of US dissidents, the unhappiness of Soviet immigrants in the US, and the US's gross social inequities.
The most recent illustration of this is the case of defector Arnold Lockshin, the US scientist who arrived here with his family last week saying he had been persecuted in the US for his political beliefs.
In a story headlined ``I chose freedom,'' which appeared late last week in much of the Soviet press, Dr. Lockshin describes what he calls a ``nightmare'' of harassment, much of it by the FBI. He says he feared for his life and the lives of his family. Perhaps most significantly, on a number of occasions in his official interview he talks of a US policy of persecuting American dissidents and uses the Russian word usually applied to opponents of the Soviet system.
Washington constantly emphasizes the Soviet threat and the lack of democracy in the Soviet Union, Lockshin is quoted as saying in the article, because by doing so the US government finds it easier to ``settle accounts with [US] dissidents.''
A follow-up article quoted Lockshin as saying that, ``without any doubt,'' there were thousands of political prisoners in US jails. And the article's author, Tass correspondent Y. Kornilov, wrote that ``all-pervasive political investigation'' was one of the ``major components of the American way of life.''
The articles follow a recent call by Yegor Ligachev, the second-ranking member of the Politburo, for a more combative Soviet attitude toward ``bourgeois ideology'' in general and human rights in the US in particular.
``Our passivity on the question of so-called human rights is absolutely unjustifiable,'' Mr. Ligachev said in a speech to theater directors and playwrights. He called on the news media to spend more time showing the hardship of US unemployed and the luxury of US millionaires.
As an example of the new aggressiveness, Ligachev mentioned a ``magnificent'' Soviet TV documentary, ``The Man from Fifth Avenue.'' The film, Ligachev said, can ``serve as an example of [the Communist] Party spirit in art and the press.'' The film is the story of Joseph Mauri, described as a homeless and jobless New Yorker. (US reports have claimed that Mauri has both a home and work). This August, Mr. Mauri made a visit to the Soviet Union that was well-publicized in the Soviet press.
Even more recently, Soviet television carried a US-made documentary, ``The Russians Are Here.'' The film, together with a lengthy Soviet commentary was shown twice during prime time on two consecutives weekends. The message, as far as Moscow was concerned, was that life in the US was not as heavenly as would-be emigrants believed. The commentary hammered this point home, showing interviews with disillusioned emigrants expressing unhappiness with the impersonal and materialistic nature of US society. If you cannot adapt here, one of them said, society is ``pitiless.''
News of another recent emigrant, the dissident leader Yuri Orlov, has, however, not been released here.