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Soviets Seek Film Sale Of Pilot's Trial

September 01, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The Soviet government is trying to sell a film documentary of the trial of West German pilot Mathias Rust to Western television networks for $100,000 or more, it was learned Monday.

The film, along with a 25-minute segment showing Rust in Lefortovo prison, has reportedly been offered by Belka International, a little-known American firm, to West European and U.S. television networks.

Rust, 19, has been in jail since he flew a light plane from Helsinki to Moscow through Soviet air defenses and landed last May 28 in the shadow of the Kremlin at the edge of Red Square.

Defense Minister Sergei Sokolov and other high military officials were dismissed as a result, on grounds that the violation of Soviet air space showed a lack of readiness in the air-defense forces.

Rust, who is to go on trial Wednesday, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted of charges of violating flight regulations, entering the country illegally and "malicious hooliganism."

An official of the Soviet TV network told a Western television representative that the film is to be provided not on a daily basis but after the trial's conclusion, which is expected Friday.

According to a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, TV cameras will be barred from the trial except for a five-minute period each day at the opening of the proceedings. But an official of Gosteleradio, the state TV and radio organization, said that it was trying to get permission to have a camera in the courtroom throughout the trial.

The Moscow bureau chief of a West European TV network said that he had received a call Aug. 23 from a Russian who said his company had exclusive rights to film the Rust trial and would sell a documentary on an exclusive, countrywide basis.

Cynthia Rosenberger, a spokeswoman in Moscow for Belka, told the Associated Press that the documentary would include an interview with Rust filmed in jail by a Soviet crew. She did not offer any additional details, but Western television sources said the asking price ranged from $100,000 to a figure "closer to $200,000" for an American network.

The Soviet attempt to cash in on the trial reportedly has found no takers yet, the sources said.

A spokesman for CBS said that the network had rejected the Soviet offer. He added that the term documentary does not appear to apply to what the Soviets are offering. The offer, said Tom Goodman, "includes 40 minutes of excerpts from the trial and 20 minutes with the German, in German."

A spokesman for NBC said that the network was approached by Orbita television in Moscow on Friday. "They approached us last. They offered us still photographs and footage of the West German pilot," he said. "We will evaluate any footage and interviews and still possibilities. We have a deep concern about buying Soviet footage of the trial."

ABC and CNN did not have immediate comment.

Meanwhile, according to West German sources, Rust's parents arrived Monday to attend the trial, along with the defendant's younger brother, Ingo. Karl-Heinz and Monika Rust, who visited their son not long after his remarkable flight, were reported to be seeking another meeting with him before the trial. They were also expected to confer with Rust's German-speaking Soviet lawyer, Vsevolod Yakovlev.

The young pilot reportedly insists he was on a mission of peace and wanted to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

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