The Soviet Union has advised the Carter administration with notable firmness in recent days that continued strong support for Soviet dissidents is bound to have a negative effect on relations between the two countries.
The message has been formally conveyed in Washington by Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, according to the official news agency, Tass, and stressed in authoritative press commentaries. The implication of these warnings is that Moscow considers U.S. support for human-rights activists a potentially major obstacle to progress in areas of mutual interest, principally strategic arms control.
"Relations of peaceful coexistence and constructive cooperation between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.," the Communist Party newspaper, Pravda said today, "can fruitfully develop only when they are based on mutual respect for the principles of sovereignty and noninterference in internal affairs."
Pravda contrasted American "words expressing reasonable intentions," on such matters as SALT and nuclear proliferation, with the "deeds of the new administration that do not square with the positive development of Soviet-American relations."
"The attempts at intertering in our internal affairs and in the affairs of some other socialist states in the name of 'defending human rights' . . . of course have been rejected."
The Soviets have not thus far mentioned President Carter's personal letter delivered last week to Andrei Sakharov, the dissident physicist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner. But that letter - thought to be an unprecedented gesture by a Western head of state - almost certainly lies behind the increased urgency of Kremlin concern.
In the month of its existence, the Carter administration has taken an increasingly bold stand on the dissident issue, speaking out in defense and praise of individuals branded as criminals by the Kremlin, and now has communicated directly with Sakharov, the person who symbolizes opposition to Soviet-bloc policies.
"This is an extraordinary challenge to the Russians," said one experienced and generally cool Western diplomat. The view of this and others analysts is that Carter and his advisers may be underestimating the extent to which the Soviets resent efforts to undermine their authority by dealing with ideological critics.
In reporting Dobrynin's latest complaint to the State Department Thursday, within hours of the delivery of the Carter letter to Sakharov, Tass observed:
"It must be clear, however, that attempts to impose one's views on another side and to inject such issues into interstate relations only complicate them and make more difficult the solution of problems that really can be and must be the subject of interaction between the two countries."
Although the prevailing belief among Western specialists here is that the Soviets, and particularly Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev, are extremely anxious to reach a SALT agreement in the coming months, some analysts speculate that even SALT could be put aside if "the Russians really get backed to the wall," as one put it.
Moscow has shown no sign of easing up in the current crackdown on dissidents as a result of the pressure from Washington, and some senior diplomats wonder whether Kremlin policy might even be toughened further as an instinctively defensive response.
It is also conceivable however, that the Soviets are hoping that a firm line with the new administration will persuade it to tone down the specific expressions of support for dissidents, such as the letter to Sakharov, in favor of a generalized advocacy of human rights. That would give the matter a chance to simmer at least until after U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's visit here in late March - the first direct contract Brezhnev will have with the American leadership.
That course was hinted at in Pravda today: "The task is to enhance detente in every way and to improve the general state of political relations between states. The Soviet Union is ready to do everything it can toward that end. The matter depends on the other side."
News agencies reported these other developments:
Philosopher Alexander Zinoviev, who was accused last year of publishing "anti-Soviet slander" in an allegorical novel, said his academic degrees had been revoked by Soviet officials. Zinoviev, a professor of logic at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy until he was fired last month, told Western reporters that he can no longer use his titles of doctor or professor.
Dissident Soviet historian Andrei Amalrik arrived in Paris and said he hoped to meet with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to discuss the "repression" of Soviet intellectuals.
Austrian radio, reporting from Bucharest, Romania, said that dissident Romanian writer Paul Goma did not plan to leave the country although he had been given emigration papers by the Romanian government. The report said, however, that a German-born couple, Erwin Gesswein and his wife, players in the Bucharest Philharmonic, hope to leave for West Germany and that painter Carmen Manoliu hopes to go to France with her son, Sergiu.