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Bavaria Leader Flies to Moscow; Teen Plea Seen

December 28, 1987|Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — Bavaria's premier piloted his light plane to Moscow today amid speculation he will appeal for the release of Mathias Rust, the West German teen-ager jailed for landing a Cessna in Red Square.

Premier Franz-Jozef Strauss, 72, was at the controls of his own Cessna when he flew into Moscow. The West German Embassy declined to comment on reports that he would appeal to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev for Rust's release.

West German radio said Strauss would seek to do so, and success, political commentators suggested, would increase his prestige in West Germany, undoubtedly at Chancellor Helmut Kohl's expense.

Meeting Expected

Embassy spokesman Alexander Allardt told Reuters that he expects Strauss--often accused of conducting a private foreign policy--to meet with Gorbachev on Tuesday.

Rust, 19, was sentenced to four years in a labor camp for violating Soviet airspace by illegally flying a Cessna from Finland and making dramatic, unauthorized landing next to the Kremlin last May. He said he did it in a bid for world peace.

The teen-ager is awaiting transfer from Moscow's Lefortovo prison to a labor camp. West German radio said his parents, who visited him before Christmas, had asked Strauss to plead for his early release.

Communist Contacts

Despite his right-wing reputation, Strauss has had a number of successful contacts with communist countries, and this prompted speculation that he could make an approach to the Kremlin leader on Rust's behalf.

Although his Christian Social Union is a partner in Kohl's center-right coalition at the national level, Strauss is not afraid to clash with the Bonn government's official line.

Earlier this year, when U.S. and Soviet negotiators announced they had agreed to scrap their intermediate-range nuclear missiles, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher warmly welcomed the development--but Strauss denounced it as a threat to security.

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