In endorsing Ambassador William Luer's attempted redefinition of glasnost, Stephen Rosenfeld {op-ed, June 19} has settled for second-best. If he had looked at Prof. D. N. Ushakov's authoritative "Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language" (Moscow, 1935), he would have found that the first definition of glasnost is "Accessibility to public discussion and verification," while the definition of the adjective from which it is formed also includes the words "public" and "open." The secondary meaning is "publicity" in the sense of "making something known to society, publishing." So there is no valid excuse for letting General Secretary Gorbachev and his supporters off the hook. When they talk about glasnost, they are indeed talking about "openness."

What is important is not what the Soviet leaders say, but what they do. The accurate political definition of glasnost today is evident in the excerpt from Andrei Sakharov's commencement address to The College of Staten Island {"For the Record," June 19}. As Mr. Sakharov implies, there is no "open" debate in Soviet media about the desirability of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and no "open" demand for the release of prisoners of conscience.

The way to handle the problem of translation is not to empty the word glasnost of the very real promise it contains, but to point repeatedly to the continuing glaring contradiction between promise and performance. R. T. DAVIES Chevy Chase