Swedish worry over Soviet submarines resurfaces

The official visit here by Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov today comes under a pall of suspicion that Soviet submarines continue to violate Swedish territorial waters. The submarine issue and the settlement of boundary disputes in the Baltic Sea are expected to be the main focus of his talks with Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson.

A Swedish Defense Ministry report released just before Christmas didn't target any nation for a series of territorial violations last summer, but press reports said the Swedish Navy had circumstantial evidence pointing to the Soviet Union.

``It would be theoretically possible to present the evidence, and it would all point in one direction,'' said a high naval source. Most of the report remains secret, but a videotape of tracks left on the ocean floor by a minisubmarine at an unspecified location was released.

While declining to place blame for the ``underwater activities,'' Swedish officials recently warned that intruders would be sunk.

Mr. Ryzhkov has said that Soviet submarines were not violating Swedish waters and attributed such claims to anti-Soviet groups wanting to discredit Moscow.

The only time the Soviet Union has admitted violating Swedish waters was in 1981, when a submarine ran aground off a major naval base in Karlskrona. The Soviets said this was due to a navigational error.

In 1983, an official Swedish report said that Soviet submarines conducted operations near Musco Naval Base in October 1982. Since then, other incidents have been regularly reported.

The submarine issue is creating domestic tensions here. Some commentators accuse the government of a cover-up of Soviet activities. Retired naval commander Hans von Hofsten has said the government isn't taking naval reports of regular Soviet operations seriously.

But Nils Skoeld, a Defense Ministry advisor and former Army commander, says he now doubts the evidence presented in 1983.

Some political analysts also say the Soviets would not issue such categorical high-level denials unless they were sure that Sweden, in fact, had no evidence against them.

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