KGB memorandum to Central Committee. Reactions of US embassy and foreign press corps to measures taken against dissidents (3 pp). [R 29 March 1977, 647-A]
[page one of three]
State Security Committee [KGB]
at the USSR Soviet of Ministers
29 March 1977, No 647-A
To the CPSU Central Committee
Reactions of the US ambassador and the foreign press corps
to the measures taken against “dissidents”
The Committee for State Security has received information that American diplomats and foreign correspondents in Moscow consider that the articles and comments in the Soviet press, radio and television broadcasts rebutting the anti-Soviet campaign in the West about the “violation of human rights” show the firm resolve of the Soviet Union not to permit interference in its internal affairs, especially on the eve of US Secretary of State Vance’s visit to the USSR.
In their view, the “culminating moment in these measures taken by Moscow” was the arrest by the Soviet authorities of the “dissident” Shcharansky.  This shows the unbending intention of the USSR to take the measures envisaged by law against such renegades.
According to remarks by the American journalist Akselbank, the publication of revelations in the newspaper “Izvestiya” and the subsequent arrest of Shcharansky put the American side in an awkward position. If this situation is strengthened by new evidence of the use of “dissidents” by US special services for the purposes of espionage, it will seriously hamper the West in its propaganda about the “defence of human rights” in the USSR and strengthen Moscow’s position on the subject.
Another American journalist, Rezini, has stated that punishment of espionage on behalf of a foreign power does not raise anyone’s doubts, including American legal
specialists. There are no grounds for fears that this will offend Vance, although he may express dissatisfaction.
The correspondent of the “Los Angeles Times” Tot warned his editors in a letter from Moscow that the arrest of Shcharansky could put him in a delicate position. The latter had helped him prepare an article by providing information about secret Soviet installations where American equipment is being used. These details wre provided, morevoer, by indiiduals who formeerly worked at such installations and have been refused the right to leave the country.
After the arrest of Shcharansky the “dissidents ”, headed by Sakharov, organised an improvised press conference on 16 March this year in a private apartment, to which they invited certain American and other Western journalists and handed out previously prepared declarations of a defamatory nature. According to information received, the US embassy in its report for the State department about this press conference singled out Sakharov’s statement that “in the present critical situation in which the Soviet movement for human rights finds itself, it would be very useful if the US Congress and the President reacted in some way to the arrest of Shcharansky. Any weakening in pressure from abroad at such a critical moment is extremely undesirable”.
Responding to a question from one of the foreign journalists as to whether Sakharov intended to meet with Vance during his visit to the USSR, he said that he did not desire such a meeting if it would put the Secretary of State in a difficult position, and would not himself ask for a meeting.
At a closed press conference for American correspondents at the US embassy on 18 March this year an embassy spokesman was evasive in his comment about the appeal by Sakharov and other “dissidents” to the USA for help, saying he did not know what the reaction of the US government would be.
Asked by a correspondent if the arrest of Shcharansky might make Vance’s visit to the USSR more difficult, the embassy spokesman responded that the Carter administration did not link human rights with detente.
According to information we are receiving, US mass media acknowledge that a “specific and serious accusation of treason” has been brought against Shcharansky and that this will place those who try to speak in his defence in a difficult position.
CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE SECURITY COMMITTEE