‘Bold Initiatives’ Toward U.S. Seen by Soviet Official
A Soviet Foreign Ministry official today said multi-candidate elections and other changes ordered by General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev provide a basis for “bold initiatives” toward the United States and are spreading to Eastern Europe.
Sergei B. Chetverikov, deputy director of the Institute for the U.S.A. and Canada, appeared with two members of the Communist Party Central Committee and Ambassador Yuri V. Dubinin at an unprecedented news conference to describe the changes to American reporters.
It was the first time in memory that the internal operations of the Soviet system were exposed to reporters’ questions at the embassy.
The two committee members, Vasily Borisenkov and Valentina Parshina, law professor Murat Baglay, translators and other Soviet officials will tour the country to hold news conferences in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta through next week.
They confirmed that the changes announced by Gorbachev on Jan. 27 in Moscow will be implemented. The Soviet leader had charged the party with stagnation and systematic failures and called for legislation to guarantee open debate.
The reforms also include secret balloting, contests for party posts down to the local level and the election of factory managers.
Parshina, an official at a fruit-packaging plant near Leningrad, said the Soviets are “making (their) society more democratic and using all the potentialities that our party has.”
Borisenkov, a party official in the Moscow region, said his own performance has already been criticized in the Soviet press in the new spirit of openness.
Borisenkov also confirmed that a wide-scale review of the cases of dissidents and sentences of prisoners had begun. “It takes time,” he said.
Chetverikov said the process of change will spread to the socialist countries of Eastern Europe, “and we welcome that. It is a coordinated policy.”