Soviet Communists Party leader Leonid Brezhnev assailed Carter administration support for Soviet dissidents today as unwarranted "interference" in our internal affairs," and warned that "normal development of relations on such a basis is, of course, unthinkable."
Brezhnev's remarks, in a major address to a national trade union congress, were dramatic evidence of the extent of Kremlin dismay over the outspoken support for human rights in the Soviet union and other countries that Carter has made the hallmark of his foreign policy.
The speech - only six days before the arrival in Moscow of U. S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance for top-level Kremlin talks - took a gloomier overall view of Soviet-American relations than any Brezhnev pronouncement in years.
Referring to the Vance visit, Brezhnev shrugged and said "we will see what he will bring with him" - with the implication that not much is expected.
Everybody of course realizes the importance of Soviet-American relations," he added. "We would like these relations to be good-neighborly ones, but this requires a definite level of mutual understanding and at least a minimum of mutual tact."
Brezhnev also made a set or relatively moderate proposals for a Middle East settlement, which may well have been intended - among other purposes - as an example to Carter of how the Soviets might cooperate with the United States if the confrontation over human rights is eased.
Although the Soviet leader expressed hope that in the interests of world peace relations between the two countries "will eventually run a satisfactory course," he said that the opening months of the new U. S. administration "did not seem to show a striving for improved ties".
"Washington's claims to teach others how to live," siad Brezhnev, "cannot be accepted by any sovereign state not to mention the fact that neither the situation in the United States itself nor U. S. actions and policies in the world give justification to such claims. I will repeat again: We will not tolerate interference in our internal affairs by anyone and under any pretext."
At hsi speech at the United Nations lask week, Carter said that since all U. N. members have signed the world body's charter, "no member of the United Nations can claim that mistreatment of its citizens is solely its own business. Equally, no member can avoid its responsilibities to review and to speak when torture or unwarranted deprivation of freedom occurs in any part of the world."
Brezhnev indicated that Moscow will continue its current extensive crackdown on dissidents, which has led to the arrest of four leading activists in the past six weeks as well as searches, threats and attacks in the press. It was the first of those actions in the early days of Carter's administration that prompted the President to speak out, setting him on the course that now pits him openly against Brezhnev.
With emotion in his voice - and to prolonged applause from the delegates - Brezhnev accused the dissenters of "acting against their homeland as accomplices if not agents of imperialism." He said they serve the "subversive" interests of foreign propaganda and "intelligence centers."
"Quite naturally," he continued, "we have taken and will take against them measures envisaged by law."
Brezhnev's unqualified assertion that progress in U. S. Soviet relations is unthinkable as long as Carter's backing for dissidents is so strongly resented here complicates the already difficult taks facing Vance in the talks next week.
Brezhnev listed all the areas in which U. S. Soviet cooperation could make headway in the reduction of international and other disarmament measures, trade and the Middle East. The bluntness of the Kremlin leader's manner and his words were clearly meant to convey a warning to Carter that the Soviets reguard those matters as linked tot he human-rights question even if the U. S. administration, as the President and Vance have stated, do not.
The Soviet party leader also accused the United States and other NATO countries of "interference . . . in the internal military conflict in Zaire and the new campaign of slander against the Peoples' Republic of Angola." He was referring to Washington's shipment of supplies to Zaire for use in battling an invading force of Katangan exiles said to be backed logistically by Cubans and Angolans.
While the comment was less direct than those on the dissident issue, it reflected the breadth of Moscow's displeasure with Carter, whom the Kremlin clearly finds harder to figure out than his predecessors in the detente, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
A significant exception to the defensive tone of Brezhnev's speech was the section on the Middle East. He did not mention Carter statements on the subject, which have been criticized by the Soviet press. Instead, of he offered some suggestions for the terms of a settlement that seemed to be a response to recent American formulations.
Western analysts were still studying the text tonight to determine whether Brezhnev's proposals were substantive or merely a more detailed restatement of past positions.
The Soviets leader said that after a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Arab terrorities occupied in 1967, "appropriate border lines . . . should be clearly defined" - which may imply a willingness to accept the principle of "defensible borders" for Israel that Carter spoke of two weeks ago.
Brezhnev also said that demilitarized zones might be established on both sides of the ne boundaries and that United Nations forces could be stationed there for a clearly defined period. Brezhnev added that Israel should have free passage through the Straits of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Suez Canal once the state of war in the area is ended.
In his comments on disarmament, Brezhnev said, "The question of prohibiting all nuclear weapons tests is an extremely important and pressing one." He added that restrictions should also be placed "on the possibilities of qualitatively perfecting nuclear arms and on the appearance of new types of such weapons."