Senior official of the Soviet Embassy, which leads the list of scofflaw embassies that have refused to pay the city more than $1 million in outstanding parking fines for 1976, said yesterday that the embassy has no intention of paying the penalties.
"In Moscow, we are doing our best to accommodate the Americans there," said Alexander A. Bessmertnyskh, minister counselor of the Soviet Embassy.
"They (Americans) don't get parking violations in Moscow. We believe in reciprocity and we don't think we should have to pay the fines when we are not given enough parking spaces."
Last year, the U.S.S.R. accumulated $342,820 worth of unpaid parking tickets, which amounts to about 34 per cent of the more than $1 million in fines that embassies and their staffs in the District of Columbia have refused to pay. The Soviets also headed the embassy nonpaying list in 1975.
Under current U.S. law, all members of the city's diplomatic community receive immunity from this country's laws. But for several months Congress has been considering legislation that would limit diplomatic immunity among embassy staffs.
For more than a year, the D.C. City Council also has sought changes in immunity laws in an effort to collect millions of dollars in parking fines.
Bessmertnykh told a Washington Post reporter that the embassy was concerned about publicity that might damage the image of Soviets in this city, but that members of the Soviet diplomatic corps would not pay fines for parking near their embassy.
Parking has been a problem for Soviet officials for years. Their embassy near 16th and L Street NW is in an area of downtown where street parking is hard to come by.
Recently, the Soviets acquired land at Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenues for a new chancery building, scheduled to be completed by 1982, that will take care of their office and parking needs, Soviet officials said. The acquisition ended a yearlong search.
In the meantime, Bessmertnykh said, embassy officials have relied upon the State Department to handle the outstanding fines and to seek additional parking space for embassy employees.
Embassy officials have complained that the amount of parking space that the city offers - space that accommodates about three cars - is not nearly enough for the more than 100 diplomats and staff who work at the Soviet Embassy.
"Most of our people live in Maryland or Virginia, and public transportation is not maneuverable enough for them to use because many of us work late," Bessmertnykh said.
Hampton Davis, assistant U.S. chief of protocol, said that the State Department has been working with the District for some time to seek a relaxation of parking restrictions near the Soviet Embassy.
Davis conceded that American diplomate in Moscow had ample parking space near their embassy, largely because there are far fewer cars in the Russian capital.
City Council member Marion Barry said he opposed any attempt to give the Soviets more space for parking or privileges than taxpayers in the city receive.
"I don't think the city should give them anything," Barry said. "We are not obligated: they don't pay taxes and no embassy - not just the Russians - should get a free ride."
Meanwhile, John Brophy, of the city's transportation office, said that the District planned to relax parking restrictions along 16th Street from L Street to Scott Circle, but that the new rules would not restrict the more liberal policy to Soviet diplomats.