Hard-Liner Named to Key Soviet Foreign Policy Post

Times Staff Writer

A veteran Soviet diplomat and historian who recently sought to prove that the United States had started the Cold War in an attempt to dominate the world has been named to a key Communist Party foreign policy post, the government announced Thursday.

Valentin M. Falin, chairman of the Novosti press agency and former ambassador to West Germany, was appointed chief of the party’s International Department after the recent realignment of the Kremlin leadership.

Falin, 62, replaces Anatoly F. Dobrynin, 68, the longtime ambassador to the United States, who was unexpectedly retired in the leadership shake-up.

In another key appointment, Alexander S. Kapto, 55, was named as chief of the Central Committee’s Ideology Department under Vadim A. Medvedev, the Politburo member who heads the party’s overall ideological work. Kapto, who has a doctorate in philosophy, returned in July after serving as ambassador to Cuba for 2 1/2 years.


Both appointments, announced by the official news agency Tass, are part of a sweeping reorganization of the party’s central departments aimed at streamlining them and focusing their efforts on policy, shifting day-to-day responsibilities to government bodies and lower-level party units. The new appointments will be watched closely, as will others, for indications of policy shifts as well as a measure of how effective the organizational reforms will be.

In a further top-level change, Vadim V. Bakatin, 50, a regional party official with a reputation as a top-flight administrator and dedicated reformer, was appointed the country’s interior minister in overall charge of the police. He succeeds Alexander V. Vlasov, who was made premier of the Russian Republic, the largest of the country’s 15 constituent republics, and was promoted to non-voting membership of the Politburo.

Falin, who has a doctorate in history, was the co-author of a controversial article two months ago in the party newspaper Pravda. It argued that the Cold War resulted directly from deliberate, carefully orchestrated U.S. policies that prevented the world from building a lasting peace after World War II.

Strongly reasserting Kremlin orthodoxy, Falin rejected recent suggestions by several liberal historians here that the Soviet Union, led at that time by the dictator Josef Stalin, shared responsibility for the Cold War, the division of Europe and the decades of international tensions that have followed.


Falin’s comments contrasted sharply with earlier policy speeches by Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who had said that Soviet policy-makers had also erred seriously. His article was read as part of a major debate between the party’s liberal and conservative wings on the fundamentals of Soviet foreign policy.

Falin took a similar hard line in September in justifying Stalin’s 1939 nonaggression treaty with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, reiterating past Soviet assertions that the Soviet Union had little choice and that the pact had bought it two years to prepare for the war.