Soviets to File Counterclaim on Embassy

United Press International

The Soviet Union intends to file a counterclaim for more than $29 million because it is unable to occupy its new embassy in Washington while the new U.S. Embassy is rebuilt in Moscow, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

Soviet spokesman Gennady Gerasimov said he could not put an exact amount on the claim, but he said it will "surpass" the $29 million sought by the United States for sloppy workmanship, cost overruns and construction delays at the controversial bug-ridden U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

President Reagan decided to raze the new embassy building in Moscow because it is riddled with electronic listening devices and he wants a new one built under heavy security at an estimated cost of between $160 million and $300 million.

Under a 1972 agreement on construction of new embassies, the Soviets are barred from using their new diplomatic complex, which has been completed, until the new U.S. Embassy is occupied in Moscow.

Besides the bugging problems in the new building in Moscow, the United States claimed last week that it is entitled to $29 million in compensation for poor workmanship and construction delays. The eight-story building was built by Soviet workers under U.S. supervision.

'We Lose Much Money'

The United States instituted a claim against the Soviets for $10 million on similar grounds in October, 1986.

Gerasimov said the U.S. compensation claims were not based on an "objective" assessment of the situation as laid out in the 1972 agreement on construction of new embassies.

"There are reciprocal claims on this mutual agreement and we will discuss them with the Americans, but not through newspaper headlines," he said.

"Our complex in Washington is unoccupied, and we lose much money by not occupying it because the American side cannot take care of things here in Moscow. Of course we suffer losses," Gerasimov said.

"We also have bills to present to the other side for the construction of our embassy in Washington," he told a news conference. "The Soviet Union will present to the American side a bill for losses, not all direct but indirect losses. The sum of our claims will surpass the size of the American claims."

Gerasimov has said the latest uproar over embassy bugging amounts to the start of a fresh anti-Soviet campaign in the United States. Tass press agency said the campaign is aimed at diverting attention away from alleged U.S. bugging of the new Soviet Embassy in Washington.

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