Soviet soccer teachers and Bolshoi ballet dancers are finding it easier to travel west. French ski coaches and British students are heading east. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policies are increasing personal and cultural contacts between Western Europe and the Soviet Union.
``Ever since Gorbachev started his reforms, attitudes toward this cooperation have loosened up,'' says Vladimir Matchannelli, president of the French-Soviet Friendship society.
France has long played host to numerous government-sponsored Soviet cultural events, Mr. Matchannelli says. Now, thanks to Gorbachev, he says, visits are possible without having to deal with official state organizations.
Recently, he says, French dancer Roland Petit was able to invite Bolshoi dancers to Paris on his own initiative. The French soccer team was able to arrange for a Soviet coach to give them tips.
The Soviets, meanwhile, are turning to Western Europe for advice. Joint ventures with Western businesses are being formed.
Western Europeans are responding with great interest. At Oxford University, Soviet specialist Archie Brown sees a boom in the number of students taking courses on the Soviet Union.
Despite this new fascination, the specialists see continuing limits on East-West contacts. Matchannelli cautions that only 5,000 Soviet tourists were able to visit Paris last year. Brown notes that Gorbachev has not let many Soviet Jews emigrate.