U.S. Assails Moscow on Rights Issue : Softer Approach Taken by Soviets at Helsinki Talks
Secretary of State George P. Shultz on Tuesday called the roll of 18 Soviet victims of political and religious persecution to dramatize his charge that Moscow and its allies have committed widespread violations of the Helsinki accords.
Shultz’s uncompromising emphasis on human rights violations followed a surprisingly mild speech by Eduard A. Shevardnadze, the new Soviet foreign minister. Shevardnadze dwelt on the U.S.-Soviet detente of the 1970s before concluding with Moscow’s familiar complaints about Washington’s plans to resume nerve gas production, its deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and its “Star Wars” anti-missile research.
10th Anniversary Talks
Shultz and Shevardnadze read their speeches to a meeting of foreign ministers commemorating the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki accords on security and human rights in Europe, which recognized Europe’s postwar borders and committed all signatories to an improvement of basic human rights.
Each man in his speech largely ignored the points made by the other. But today, they will have to talk directly to each other when they meet for a scheduled three-hour session that U.S. officials consider the most important event of their three-day visit to the Finnish capital.
Shultz has said he hopes to use the meeting to start making plans for President Reagan’s Nov. 19 summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Shultz and Shevardnadze are expected to complete the agenda for the Geneva summit when they meet again in September, during the Soviet foreign minister’s scheduled appearance at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Shultz devoted almost a third of his speech Tuesday to a recitation of Soviet transgressions against such well-known dissidents as Nobel laureate Andrei D. Sakharov, Anatoly Shcharansky and Yuri M. Orlov, as well as more obscure figures such as Christian activist Dina Shvedsova and Muslim activist Abuzakar Rahimov.
Citing “the barriers, the walls, the barbed wires and the weapons” created by the Soviet Bloc to divide Europe, Shultz warned that “tensions will exist so long as some persist in violating the most fundamental human rights. . . . Pious declarations are cheap. Real progress can only be seen in its effect on human beings.”
In his speech, Shevardnadze made just one reference to the U.S. emphasis on human rights. “Our country has not allowed and will not allow anyone to interfere in its internal affairs,” Shevardnadze said in his first appearance abroad since becoming foreign minister July 2. He said the Helsinki pact’s human rights provisions are honored in the Soviet Union, where there is no “unemployment, poverty, homelessness or discrimination based on race or nationality.”
Shevardnadze also said Western countries in general and the United States in particular violate economic provisions of the Helsinki accords through “sanctions and embargoes and discrimination and arbitrary refusal to abide by the deals and agreements concluded.”
At a press conference after the speech, Viktor G. Komplektov, a deputy foreign minister, was asked why the Soviets did not celebrate the anniversary of the Helsinki accords by releasing Sakharov, Shcharansky and Orlov. He responded tartly, “I will not be commenting on what you said.”
Shevardnadze said that U.S. nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons programs all threaten world peace. He said that at the Geneva arms reduction talks, “we are faced with a reluctance to negotiate and resolve in a businesslike manner the issues that cause anxiety throughout the world.”
Compared to Gromyko
Nevertheless, some U.S. officials said privately they considered the speech to be a moderate one, especially in comparison with the rhetoric previously employed by Andrei A. Gromyko, the longtime Soviet foreign minister who has been elected to the largely honorific post of president.
“It is our conviction that detente of the 1970s was not an accidental development which has since sunk into oblivion,” Shevardnadze said. “This is valuable experience which strengthens the belief that constructive dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation constitute a natural state of international relations which is in line with common interests.”
A senior State Department official, asked later at a press briefing if the United States favors “detente” with the Soviet Union, carefully avoided using the word.
“We favor exploring first the agenda between us and seeking those opportunities for getting together, solving problems, identifying issues that present themselves to us,” said the official, who declined to be identified by name.
Soviet Role Cited
In his otherwise hard-line speech, Shultz offered one rhetorical flourish intended to appeal to the Soviets, who previously had complained about U.S. reluctance to acknowledge their role in World War II. He said, “Only the heroic efforts of the Western democracies and the Soviet Union saved Europe from Hitler’s tyranny.”
In his treatment of human rights, Shultz said each of the 18 names he mentioned was selected as a representative of a far larger group of Soviets who have been imprisoned, confined to mental hospitals or exiled by the state because they sought to practice religious freedom or pursue human rights. He also accused Poland and Czechoslovakia of similar violations of human rights.
Of Sakharov, now in internal exile in Gorky, Shultz said, “The man who more than any other represents the ideals enshrined in the (accords) . . . remains totally isolated from the outside world.
“All who would live an active religious life according to their faith, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, risk harassment, imprisonment or confinement in psychiatric institutions,” Shultz continued. “Dina Shvedsova, Vasyl Korbin, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Gleb Yakunin, Pastor Nikolai Goretoi and Pastor Viktor Valter are only a few of the Christians currently serving sentences of up to 12 years in prison or exile in the Soviet Union because of their faith.”
In his speech, Shevardnadze repeated the Soviet announcement, made in Moscow on Monday, of a moratorium on nuclear testing from Aug. 6 to the end of the year. The United States immediately rejected the plan, and a U.S. official in Helsinki dismissed it as propaganda.
Komplektov, the Soviet official who briefed reporters, said Moscow is prepared to discuss ways of verifying such a moratorium if the United States chooses to join it. But he said there is no point in talking about verification if Washington refuses to consider the halt in the tests.
But the senior U.S. official said later that the Soviets made no official offer on verification.