With a dozen Soviet sidewalk superintendents watching District of Columbia Transportation Department employes yesterday played musical cars with embassy personnel on the snow in front of the embassy.

When the white and blue city tow trucks with revolving blue lights showed up, the Soviet Embassy employes were quick to move their cars. Within 10 minutes all but two cars -- which would not start -- had been driven away.

Zeke Washington, a tow truck driver for the city, helped one official start his car, which had a dead battery. When the way finally was clear, a two-ton dump truck with a snowplow blade in the front moved along the east side of 16th between L and M streets, moving the snow about four feet closer to the curb.

Enough snow still remained in the lower half of the block so that parking spaces were not clear to the curb. The city's stated goal had been to clear to the curb, but while the snowplow was making its way north on 16th Street toward M, Soviet diplomats who had moved their cars returned and parked them again, locked the doors and went back into the embassy.

"They got back in there before we could get it (the snow) out," said Francis Smith, the parking analyst supervising the operation. "It's just one of those things," he said. "We can't continue to move them all day."

And so the plow moved on, leaving a three-foot pile of snow in front of the Soviet Embassy driveway, rendering it impassable to cars.

The snow-clearing operation in front of the Soviet embassy was part of a larger citywide effort on seven main arteries -- Connecticut, Wisconsin, Georgia and Martin Luther King avenues, H and 16th streets and Benning Road.