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Glasnost-Spawned Groups Under Fire

February 04, 1988|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — A crackdown has started against some of the new unofficial groups encouraged by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to take part in public affairs.

The first public sign of high-level disapproval of these groups is in the form of sharply critical articles in leading Communist Party newspapers. The confrontation reflects a struggle between those who want to see an expansion of citizen participation in social and economic life and others who fear that it might jeopardize the party's leading role.

Gorbachev has supported the growth of the voluntary groups in the belief that they will channel energies into his economic renovation campaign that the government could not otherwise command.

But publication of suggestions that some of these groups have "extremist" tendencies shows that the growth of the so-called nyeformals , or "informals," are to be monitored closely by the authorities.

The young founders of several informal organizations were accused by name of using Gorbachev's policy of glasnost , or openness, to undermine communism at home and spread anti-Soviet propaganda in the Western news media.

Boris Kagarlitsky, an activist in the Club of Social Initiatives, was the target of an especially sharp attack in Sunday's issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda, the newspaper of the Young Communist League.

He was described as a former party member who was expelled from the State Institute of Arts for anti-Soviet activity. The article said he was advocating disruption of factory production teams.

Friends of Kagarlitsky said at a news conference that the article contained numerous distortions. They demanded that the newspaper print an article clearing his name. Unless it does, one friend said, Kagarlitsky will sue Komsomolskaya Pravda for slander.

An article Monday in Pravda, the party's principal newspaper, stopped short of denouncing the entire movement of informal associations but singled out Sergei Grigoryants, the editor of a new publication called Glasnost, for criticism.

Closed-Door Struggle

Pravda also criticized a group known as Democracy and Humanism Seminar for promoting demonstrations in support of Gorbachev's reform proposals. The newspaper charged that two U.S. diplomats in Moscow and two Western European journalists were "grubbing about in garbage cans" by paying undue attention to such seminars.

Meanwhile, the struggle between the heads of independent groups and the leaders of Komsomol, the Communist Youth League, was waged behind closed doors over the past weekend.

Organizers of a two-day conference said the discussions on the role of--and limits on--the informal associations were "very heated." Andrei Isayev, a coordinator of the Moscow chapter of a new federation of socialist clubs, said the appearance of the harshly critical Komsomolskaya Pravda article on Sunday was like a bombshell.

"We believe there are Komsomol people who want to cooperate and others who want to stamp us out," Isayev said at a news conference.

He said that the attack on Kagarlitsky, who is also on the board of the federation, contained "a colossal number of distortions."

German Ivantsov, a Komsomol organizer who said he heads another group of independent organizations, said the story about Kagarlitsky was absurd. He said the groups must defend themselves against "reactionary elements."

Two men introduced themselves at the news conference and said they were members of the Central Committee of the Komsomol. One of them, Andrei Kabannikov, said: "We support all informal groups that pursue socially significant goals. Only 7% to 8% are antisocial clubs with reactionary, pro-fascist ideologies."

The other, Konstantin Zatulin, said the informal groups lack "organizational skills," a party term for tolerating undeserving leaders.

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