Plans are proceeding for a walk by 400 Americans and Soviets from Leningrad to Moscow this summer as a demonstration of opposition to the arms race, according to Allan Affeldt, president of International Peace Walk Inc., the American organizing group for the march.
The walk, patterned after the Los Angeles-to-Washington peace march by 500 activists last year, is jointly sponsored by the Soviet Peace Committee. The plan is for 200 Americans and 200 Soviets to travel the 450 miles between the two cities between June 8 and July 12, passing through Novgorod and Kalinin on the way.
"We're definitely on for this year," Affeldt said from his group's headquarters in Irvine. He said the American organizers have been communicating with the Soviets several times a week.
Marchers will cover about half the distance on foot and travel the rest by bus. They expect to camp out most of the time, Affeldt said, with occasional stays in private homes, school auditoriums, churches and hotels.
Affeldt said that the Soviets have given permission for a rock concert at Olympic Stadium after the group reaches Moscow. That concert, however, depends on the Americans' lining up Western performers. "We're working on it," Affeldt said.
The idea for the Soviet walk was born on the American cross-country march last year, organizers say. At its completion last November, marchers Carlos de la Fuente and Affeldt paid an impromptu visit to the Soviet Embassy in Washington. That eventually led to two trips to Moscow, where they met with the Soviet Peace Committee.
So far, 140 American applications to join the march have been accepted, Affeldt said. Those accepted must deposit $500 of the total $2,500 fee within two weeks.
In the meantime, other fund raising continues, as do negotiations with the Soviets, especially regarding arrangements for marchers to stay in private homes. They are being told by the Peace Committee, he said, that such virtually unprecedented arrangements would be up to individuals in sites along the way.
"The only difficulty is in explaining that we really do want to walk and we really do want to cook our own food," Affeldt said of the negotiations. "There's a cultural barrier there. Their attitude is that we're their guests. They want to shuttle us around and take us to hotels and restaurants."