Leadership Change in Russia

Your editorial (March 12), "Moscow's Youth Movement," is quite interesting and thought-provoking. Undoubtedly, the passing of Konstantin U. Chernenko and the naming of Mikhail S. Gorbachev to take his place is an event with long-ranging implications. However, I must disagree with your contention that "fundamental changes in Soviet behavior, if they come at all, will probably come very slowly."

This is the world of old men. Our President Ronald Reagan is a good example of this world. He believes in nuclear superiority, as a principle, and free-wheeling capitalism as a way of life. His pride in Americanism, in family and in other old-fashioned ideas are beyond any doubt. How much he believes in freedoms--civil and otherwise--I cannot tell.

The old men in Kremlin also believe in certain things, like the superiority of communism, the power of Russian military strength. They also believe that the final victory belongs to Soviets. But precisely because of this kind of thinking this world of ours is close to a nuclear holocaust and worldwide depression. And precisely because of this kind of thinking we have Afghanistan's occupation by Soviets, intimidation and repression by Russia in Poland and continuous tumult and war in Nicaragua and El Salvador. This is the world of enslaved Baltic states and the rest of Eastern Europe.

To believe that a more liberalized, civilized Russia, without fundamentally changing its behavior, will make much difference to the fate of the world, is incorrect. A new thinking must come--radical thinking, be it from the new leadership of America (after Reagan) or from the new leadership in Kremlin. That's why I expect more from Gorbachev than his obviously charming personality, his communication skills and the fact that he belongs to a new generation. In my opinion, time is running out fast, and at stake is the fate of the world--nothing more and nothing less.



I was saddened to learn of the death of Soviet President Chernenko. When I met him on Dec. 4 in his office, except for a slight shortness of breath due to emphysema, he gave no indication of being seriously ill.

He was a warm man who demonstrated his concern for good relations with the United States and for world peace. His major accomplishment during his brief tenure was to reopen the peace talks at Geneva.

I believe Gorbachev will continue where Chernenko has left off. I also believe he will introduce a stricter discipline in the Soviet economy, since he was a protege of Yuri Andropov whose untimely death prevented him from restructuring Soviet economy.

I also think this is a window of opportunity for President Reagan to schedule a summit meeting with Gorbachev later this year after the negotiations in Geneva show some signs of progress. If the negotiators reach an impasse, it would be very important if Reagan had access to Gorbachev and vice versa so that the two leaders could instruct their negotiators to overcome whatever obstacles they encountered.

I extend my condolences to the Russian people and to the family of Mr. Chernenko and hope that his efforts for better relations between our two countries for peace, along with the continued efforts of Reagan and Gorbachev will bring our nations a peaceful co-existence and avoid the danger of nuclear war.


Los Angeles

It is my strong opinion that under the new leadership of Gorbachev we are in for some very dangerous times. Under Chernenko we were dealing with a moribund "evil empire," struggling for mere survival. Now that the Soviets have a young, vibrant leader, their "collective unconscious," as termed by famed psychologist Carl Jung, will be rejuvenated.

Morale in the Soviet Union is bound to soar; they will be able to view themselves as No. 1, and their pervasive ideology espousing world dominion will take off on a rampage.


Huntington Beach

About your headline on the front page (March 12), "Reagan Will Send Bush to Chernenko's Funeral": Most people would send a wreath.



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