From an interview with Milovan Djilas, the Yugoslav dissident, in the International Herald Tribune Jan. 18:

Q. The Marquis de Custine said during a visit to Moscow in 1839 that the world would one day be ruled by "patient peoples" like the Russians. Is history likely to prove him right?

A. The Russians are essentially playing a patient game. The Soviet Union is a military empire, and in history military empires change very slowly. But my view is that the Soviet Union is in a deep crisis, to the extent that it is becoming rotten. This doesn't mean the party, the ruling class has no more vitality. I think it does.

Q. Haven't we seen glasnost before?

A. Yes, many times. We may compare this period of Gorbachev with the rule of Czar Alexander II and his reforms. Of course, the czar was more energetic, more radical.

Q. What has happened to such reform initiatives in the past?

A. They have been suppressed. History goes up, down, up, down.

Q. Are you saying glasnost may eventually end in a new period of repression?

A. Not repression. Suppression maybe. I do not think there will be persecution on a large scale.

Q. Are Western countries making too much of Mr. Gorbachev?

A. No. I think the policy of Reagan generally is correct.

Q. Why do you say that?

A. Because he understood the Soviets. He knew he had to be strong and push them into a corner. The Russians began to realize they could not maneuver with Reagan. After Reykjavik, they took the initiative, and the Americans came to a halt, perhaps because of Irangate. But the Americans quickly recovered and found the correct way to negotiate without giving away essential concessions.