MOSCOW — After three consecutive days of confrontations with police, a group of Soviet Jews seeking permission to leave the country called off a planned demonstration Wednesday, saying arrests have depleted their numbers.
"We planned to protest every day of the summit but so many have been arrested or kept locked in their homes by the KGB (security police) that it is impossible to organize a demonstration," one refusenik said in a brief telephone interview.
During a demonstration Tuesday, at least 12 refuseniks--Jews denied exit visas--were detained by police as they attempted a protest in central Moscow outside the Foreign Ministry. Foreign reporters also were shoved and physically removed from the area.
Calling on Moscow-based Western correspondents to behave in a "civilized" manner, a government spokesman criticized their coverage of daily demonstrations during the Washington summit by refuseniks whose protests have been brutally broken up by police and KGB men.
In contrast to the slick image presented by Soviet spokesmen at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri A. Gremitsky accused Western reporters Tuesday of hooliganism, including fighting with police at the demonstrations that started Sunday.
Cable News Network Moscow Bureau Chief Peter Arnett was detained for four hours Sunday. When he and other reporters tried to respond to Gremitsky's comments at a news conference, they were told to ask questions, not make statements.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow Tuesday lodged a protest with Soviet officials over Arnett's arrest.
"As to the actions taken by Zionist elements, they have a provocative aim to create against the background of the summit meeting the impression that there is something wrong in the area of exit permits," Gremitsky said in defense of the police actions.
Charging that Arnett assaulted a Soviet citizen in the Sunday demonstration, Gremitsky said, "From what I have said, the conclusion is that civilized people in a civilized country--at a civilized demonstration--must behave in a civilized manner."