Soviet Union: Battening Down the Hatches

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But the Soviet dissident's whereabouts, and the state of his health, were cloaked in mystery. Two weeks ago, Bonner had sent a telegram to relatives in Moscow informing them that Sakharov had been taken from their apartment in Gorky, the industrial city to which he was exiled in 1980. French Communist Party Chief Georges Marchais said that sources "at the highest level" had implied to him that Sakharov, who has a history of heart disease, was in "satisfactory" health and under regular observation at a Gorky clinic. Later the Soviet Ambassador to France told Socialist Party Leader Lionel Jospin that Bonner and Sakharov were well and in their Gorky apartment. Neither account persuaded Tatyana Yankelevich, Bonner's daughter by her first marriage. Said she: "We can not exclude the possibility that Sakharov is no longer alive."

Bonner came under savage attack last week in Izvestia. The government daily accused Bonner of pushing her husband into anti-Soviet activities. The commentary described her as a "shallow, resentful and greedy person" whose primary goal was to flee to the West "even if it meant over her husband's dead body." Izvestia also repeated allegations that the U.S. embassy in Moscow had involved Sakharov's wife in a "provocative operation."

TIME has learned that among the documents that Bonner gave U.S. officials during a meeting in Moscow in April was a third message from Sakharov requesting temporary refuge for his wife in the embassy. The dissident physicist apparently feared that the KGB would take actions against Bonner if he went on a hunger strike. He also wanted her to have access to American medical care.

There were other signs last week that the Soviet leadership was intent on tightening internal control. The Communist Party daily, Pravda, published a selection of letters that it had received in response to a story last October calling for a ban on Western rock music, blue jeans and T shirts emblazoned with everything from advertising logos to American flags. Most readers shared the feelings of one letter writer who urged that "we must not let the Stars and Stripes into our life at this time."

Late in the week Pravda charged that there was a worldwide conspiracy by Christian, Muslim and Jewish extremists to undermine Communism by promoting the practice of religion. The campaign to check "dangerous" foreign influences could mean only one thing— the Kremlin was battening down the hatches in anticipation of stormy seas.

— By John Kohan. Reported by Erik Amfitheatrof /Moscow and Douglas Brew/Washington

*Cuba and North Korea, not unexpectedly, last week joined the boycott. But Rumania broke ranks with the Warsaw Pact and said that it would send its athletes to Los Angeles.

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