A Soviet official has rejected American novelist Norman Mailer's invitation for Soviet writers to attend the 48th annual PEN Congress in New York, saying that their participation -- alongside former Soviet authors and some others involved -- "would mean for us to find ourselves in the same ranks with these advocates of hatred."
Georgy Markov, first secretary of the Board of the Union of Writers of the U.S.S.R., told Mailer in a letter that the list of invited guests includes "persons (former Soviet citizens among them) whose activity for a number of years has been directed at kindling hostility and hatred between peoples," the Soviet news agency Tass reported today.
"Our readiness to accept your invitation," Markov said, "would mean for us to find ourselves in the same ranks with these advocates of hatred both to our people and the peoples of those countries where they were born," according to the Tass report.
Markov said the participation of the writers in question "cannot and will not . . . promote the formation of a creative and constructive atmosphere."
The Tass report of the letter, published only on the Russian language version of the official Soviet news service, did not mention any of the writers at the conference by name. Among the participants in New York are Soviet e'migre's Joseph Brodsky and Vassily Aksyonov.
Mailer and PEN Center Executive Director Karen Kennerly invited eight Soviet representatives, including Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Voznesensky, as well as novelists Danil Granin, Valentin Rasputin and Chingiz Aitmatov.
Markov, in his letter to Mailer, said the appearance of the writers objectionable to the Soviet Union "is directed against the common struggle among all mankind for peace and mutual understanding between peoples in general, and between writers in particular."
But the Soviet official said the rejection of the invitation did not mean that the Soviet writers are against "comparing different opinions." The U.S.S.R. union of writers "undertakes efforts at present aimed at activating and broadening our contacts with American writers," he said.