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Sakharovs Quoted: Gorbachev Rule in Danger

From Associated Press

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev is in danger of being overthrown because he has failed to seek popular support in direct elections, Andrei D. Sakharov and his wife were quoted as saying in an interview published Thursday.

“The conservatives will overthrow Gorbachev or at least impose their views on him,” the conservative French daily Le Figaro quoted Sakharov, the dean of the Soviet human rights movement, as saying.

Le Figaro said the six-hour interview with Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, also a prominent rights activist, was conducted over three consecutive evenings at their Moscow home.

The newspaper quoted Bonner as saying: “The only real defense for a chief of state is direct election. Why is Gorbachev afraid? We would elect him. Our country has no other leader.

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“I think he will be overthrown soon,” she was quoted as saying. “I would not bet 10 rubles on Gorbachev.”

Bonner predicted that if Gorbachev is ousted, “so will (be) all those who believed in perestroika, " his program to restructure Soviet society and its economy, the paper reported.

Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, said the West must continue to pressure the Soviet Union on rights issues, at least until an international human rights conference that is scheduled in Moscow in 1991.

He said the meeting, which initially was opposed by Britain and the United States, “should only take place if the (human rights) situation in the Soviet Union is truly satisfactory.”

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Le Figaro quoted Sakharov as saying that perestroika is “absolutely necessary. There is no other solution. This doesn’t mean that you have to support Gorbachev without reservation. To associate perestroika 100% with his name would not be fair.

“Gorbachev could come under pressure. He could have other ideas,” Sakharov was quoted as saying. “The restructuring has to be supported in general without worrying whether some people are going to be upset. For the Soviet individual today, the question of collective rights is more immediate than individual rights.”

He was quoted as saying he does not like the new electoral law, which only allows officially sanctioned organizations to nominate candidates for the new people’s congress.

He said he also dislikes another new law designed to allow authorities to break up meetings and demonstrations and to arrest Armenian nationalist leaders, Le Figaro reported.

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