Kremlin Shake-Up to Help U.S. Relations, Gerasimov Says

Times Staff Writer

A spokesman for the Soviet government said Sunday that last week’s changes in the Kremlin leadership will strengthen Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and help produce better relations with the United States, but he added that there is no chance of another summit meeting between Gorbachev and President Reagan this year.

“These changes increase the chances of the success of perestroika very greatly,” Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov said on ABC’s “This Week With David Brinkley.” Perestroika, or restructuring, is the term Gorbachev has adopted for his program of sweeping economic and political reforms.

“The old guard is stepping down and the new guard is stepping in,” Gerasimov said, referring to the replacement of several senior officials with younger followers of Gorbachev.

In two days of top-level meetings in the Kremlin, Gorbachev was formally named president of the Soviet Union, replacing Andrei A. Gromyko, who retired. Two members of the Soviet Communist Party Politburo who had reportedly criticized Gorbachev, chief ideologist Yegor K. Ligachev and KGB chief Viktor M. Chebrikov, were demoted to lesser jobs.


Asked about their demotions, Gerasimov borrowed a line from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” a stinging satire on Soviet communism.

‘Some More Equal Than Others’

“They are still Politburo members,” he said. “All Politburo members are equal, although some of them may be more equal than the others.”

(In “Animal Farm,” which Orwell wrote during Stalin’s rule, a group of animals begin running a farm on egalitarian socialist principles, but a few power-hungry pigs seize control and force the others to bend to their will. To mask the loss of ideals, one of the pigs coins a slogan: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”)


In another interview on Cable News Network, Gerasimov, who is in New York to attend the opening sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, said bluntly that Gorbachev is trying to break Soviet citizens of their historical reliance on authoritarian, centralized governments.

“Gorbachev (has) tried to convince them that they must now think for themselves and do things for themselves, not rely on a czar or a king or somebody,” he said. “It’s not easy. . . . It’s difficult sometimes for old dogs to learn new tricks.”

At the same time, he indicated that the Soviet Communist Party intends to keep political power in its own hands even as it attempts to decentralize economic decision-making.

Returning to Lenin View

“We are returning to (Soviet Union founder V. I.) Lenin,” he said in the ABC interview. “We are now decentralizing our economy because a centralized economy--and it was centralized not by Lenin, it was centralized by (Josef) Stalin--is not working properly now.”

Gerasimov said that the success of Gorbachev’s domestic policies should also lead to better relations with the United States.

“Perestroika does work, in my view, in foreign policy,” he said. “We have many changes. We are going out of Afghanistan, we have our relations improved with your country, we have the first real disarmament agreement, and I can continue the list. So, perestroika works here in foreign policy. And I think that these changes can have only a benevolent influence on the development of Soviet-American relations.”

But he said that he does not believe there is any possibility of a fifth summit meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan, who will leave office in January.


“They must have some reason to meet, you know,” he said. “I don’t see it. Personally, I don’t see any chance of them meeting again.”

He said that he expects restrictions on emigration from the Soviet Union to ease gradually, to the point where free emigration might some day be possible.

“We now have simplified the procedure to emigrate and we’re going to simplify it further,” he said. “So in 10 years from now, it’s quite possible” that freedom of emigration could be reached.

“But of course, frankly speaking, we are a little bit concerned with brain drain,” he added.