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The Books Are Closed

September 06, 1985

Soviet officials have again betrayed their fear of ideas, free expression and open exchange, and have again violated their commitment to those very elements of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe signed in Helsinki 10 years ago.

The latest evidence of the Soviet Union's defiance of the Helsinki accords came in the denial of visas for two Americans who had been planning to attend the Moscow Book Fair next week. The decision was the more significant because both had been granted visas for previous fairs and both are active in the Helsinki Watch Committee, monitoring compliance with the 1975 agreements.

"The book fair would have been a good way for the Gorbachev government to express itself as being different," Robert Bernstein, president of Random House and one of those denied a visa, told the New York Times.

Close to 300 American titles will nevertheless be on exhibit, and a delegation of U.S. book-company officials have been granted visas. They should heed Bernstein's advice, going with open eyes and talking freely. There is always the chance that their ideas, free expressions and open exchanges will be contagious.

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