FIRST OFF . . .
Gen. Gely Batenin of the Soviet Armed Forces was a no-show Wednesday at a Public Broadcasting Service press conference tied to an upcoming 13-part series called “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.” The reason: Batenin was denied a visa to enter the United States for “internal security” reasons, according to a State Department spokesman. Batenin was rejected by the FBI as a security risk even though he had been here previously as a member of Mikhail Gorbachev’s entourage. The FBI opposed his visit then too, but couldn’t block him. The State Department was willing to have him take part in the PBS session, but took that position without checking with the FBI. Zvi Dor-Ner, executive producer of the series, had invited Batenin along with Gen. Russell Dougherty, U.S. Air Force, ret., and former commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, to participate in the press event at the Registry Hotel in Universal City. Dougherty was present, and sat next to an empty chair. Vladimir Popov, vice chairman of the U.S.S.R. State Committee for Television and Radio, has filed a protest with the U.S. Information Agency, charging that not granting the Soviet general a visa denies free exchange of ideas between the two nations.