Santiago Carrillo, leader of the Spanish Communist Party, struck back sharply today at Soviet criticism of his view of communism and challenged the Kremlin leadership to an open debate on Eurocommunism.
Carrillo, a leading exponent of Eurocommunism, the separately developing Western European form of communism, said the Soviet attacks will not make him budget from his Mne of independence from Soviet direction.
His criticism, made at a press conference at party headquarters here, was in response to a virulent attack on his views of communism in the official Soviet magazine New Times last week.
The unsigned 3,500-word article has been interpreted as a general, Soviet offensive against other Eurocommunists - such as Italy's Enrico Berlinguer and France's Georges Marchais.
Carrillo has been at odds with the Soviet Union for more than 11 years. He was among the first to defend the rights of Soviet dissidents and in 1968 he reviled Moscow for invading Caechoslovakia and trampling the "Prague spring."
He rebuked the Soviet Union for using his book, "Eurocommunism and the State," to try to "excommunicate" him from the world Communist movement. He noted that the work has not been published in the Soviet Union.
He said that the Spanish party will publish the entire Soviet attack along with the Spanish party's answers. He challenged the Soviet leadership to print and distribute his book there and throughout Eastern Europe.
Carrillo defended the thesis that Western Europe - including Spain - must form a regional alliance independent from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The New Times article apparently considered this view not only heresy but playing into the hands of capitalists and imperialim.
Carrillo actually seems to welcome the verbal war with the Kremlin that has caught the attention of the Communist and non-Communist world.
"Eurocommunism," he asserted, "is not an occasional tactic . . . I hope that the Soviets will recover their good sense. They have nothing to gain from attacking us."
Carrillo sat flanked by other Spanish party leaders today.
In a weekend meeting of the Central Committee, Dolores Ibarruri, 82, a leading Spanish Communist who recently returned from 37 years of exile in Moscow and other Spanish Communist figures who had lived in the Soviet Union pointedly backed Carrillo.
Although sentimentally attached to Moscow, Ibarruri and the "Russians" in the Spanish party have always taken Carrillo's also in his continuing struggle for independence from Moscow. The attack appears to have helped close the party's ranks.
"I will maintain my position at any cost," Carrillo stressed, but he added, "We will not break relations" with the Soviet party. He said, however, that the risk of a rupture was there.
The Soviet attack appeared to be in attempts to undermine Carrillo's leadership and encourage the rise of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] pro-Soviet faction in the Spanish's Party.Carrillo charged that Soviet television commentators had [WORD ILLEGIBLE] been critical of the way he had [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for this month's parlianentary elections, in which Communists elected only to representatives to the 350-member lower house.
He pointed out that the party - out lawed by the late dictator Francisco. Franco and leglaized only in Aprily has very little time to seek votes.
He said that the party would have done far better if the Soviets had attacked him before the election. Maily Spaniards still fear communism as the advance guard of the Soviet Union. Throughout its 37-year dictatorship the France government identified Communists as agents of the Soviet Union.
Relations between the party and the newly-installed Soviet ambassador in Madrid. Sergei Bogomolev, apparently are not cordian Carrillo and other party leaders remarked that they have no "contact," with Bogomolev. The Communist leadership also stays aloof from U.S. diplomats, but they make it clear that they welcome the Carter administration's eased stand toward Eurocommunism.
Since the electron Carrillo has become in good standing in the Spanish political establishment. Last week he had a long talk with Premier Adolfo Suarez, who is trying to form a government. The two reportedly discussed the new constitution that will be the first order of business of Spain is first freely elected Parliament in 41 years.
Friday Carrillo attended the official birthday party of King Juan Carlos. He exchanged greetings with the monarch but no photographs of the two were permitted.
Meanwhile, Surrez and Socialist leader Felipe Gonzalez met today for the first time since June 15 elections, in which their parties won most of the votes. An immediate issue on which they differed was administrative reform, informed sources said.