An Unexpected Outbreak of Candor

The Soviet government's astonishingly blunt report on Chernobyl is but one of a number of examples of Party Leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, or openness. In recent months Soviet officials and journalists have been discussing the difficulties and shortcomings of their society with unprecedented candor, and newspaper and magazine editors have been publishing more and more critical letters from readers.

A spate of such letters has apparently influenced decisions to abandon a project to reverse the course of several rivers in the northern part of the country and to scale back a widely criticized plan for a war memorial. The...

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