The Soviet Union refined its attack on Spanish Communist Party leader Santiago Carrillo today, saying that its quarrel is directed only at Carrillo and not at other members of the Spanish or any other European Communist Party.
The new line was contained in an article in New Times, the official foreign affairs weekly, and was carried in full by the Tass news agency.
New Times asserted that the Western press is "trying to create an impression that the Soviet Union is allegedly launching an 'offensive' against West European Communist parties." This is not so, the weekly declared. It said the Soviet Communist Party "has not organized and is not organizing any campaigns against any fraternal party."
It added that "support has been most explictly expressed for the struggle of the Spanish Communists for democracy in their country. The (original) article has . . . clearly proclaimed the ideas of frendship and cooperation between the Communitsts of our two countries."
Western diplomatic sources suggested today that the New Times article is an attempt to warn other European Communists of the dangers of outspoken criticism of Soviet communism and an effort to reassure them that Soviet party differences with Carrillo did not come to an end with the publication of the original attack.
The Soviet leadership originally attacked Carrillo last month in a review of a book he had written before the Spanish elections.
The book, "Eurocommunism and the State" strongly criticized the Soviet Union and suggested that European communism pursue its own line of development. Soviet Communists have always insisted on the primacy of their views, goals and methods.
Last month's Soviet attack on Carrillo came just after the Spanish Communist Party surprised many observers by receiving barely 7 per cent of the vote in Spain's first free national election since the Spanish civil war a generation ago.
Diplomats have viewed the Kremlin attack as a well-timed attempt to deliver a knock-out blow to Carrillo while his prestige is reduced as a result of the election. Soviet enmity for Coarillo has been sharp since the 1976 conference of European Communist Parties in East Berlin, when he directed a lengthy speech filled with criticism at the Soviets, including party leader Leonid Brezhnev.
The precise relationship between the Kremlin ideologists and their followers elsewhere in Europe has become increasingly significant as the Communist parties in France and Italy seem to be approaching some direct participation in their nations' governments.
Thus the original attack on Carrillo spread shockwaves through the continent's Communist Parties. The term Eurocommunism has been used widely in the past year to describe the views espoused by the Communist parties of Italy, Span and France.
Carrillo, especially, outraged the Soviets by advocating that Spain seek membership in NATO, a step publicly regarded here as a military threat of the highest order.
"Santiago Carrillo has been engaged in a crude, open campaign against the Soviet Union for a number of years," New Times wrote today. "Practically for three or four years there has not been a single speech by Carrillo in which he did not accuse the Soviet Union and Soviet people in general of every unexisting sin. Things have gone recently so far (that he) calls for struggle against the order existing in our country."