With the unity of a well-drilled corps de ballet, the Soviet media for the past two days have presented a carefully orchestrated propaganda offensive about the Soviet-American confrontation over the fate of Bolshoi ballerina Ludmila Vlasova.
The Communist Party daily Pravda and other influential newspapers, under a four-column headline "Gross Provocation," today gave the Soviet version of the episode at Kennedy International Airport in New York, where U.S. authorities have blocked the takeoff of an Aeroflot plane since Friday in an attempt to talk alone with Vlasova.
Neither Pravda nor other media accounts have mentioned that the dancer's husband, Bolshoi star Alexander Godunov, defected to the United States last Wednesday.
No Soviet dispatch has reported that the Americans want to talk with Godunov's wife out of the presence of Soviet officials to determine whether she wishes to join him in seeking political asylum in America.
The Soviet news agency Tass has called the U.S. action a "gross violation of the norms of international law and relations among states." Yesterday, the national television news program "Vremya" showed film of the Aeroflot plane isolated on the airport tarmac, with an unidentified person entering its cabin. The program denounced the Americans for "crude provocations."
Tonight, the newscast sharply denounced the Americans again and reported yesterday's Soviet protest to the State Department, omitting any reference to the U.S. diplomatic protest to the Soviet Embassy in Washington over the Soviet refusal to allow the Americans to interview the dancer privately.
Tass has quoted Vlasova as telling one of its reporters, "My only dream is that the plane should take off and take course for home as soon as possible. The actions of the American authorities are an example of absolute lawlessness and flagrant arbitrariness. On what grounds are Soviet passengers detained in the U.S.?"
She was quoted as complaining that the Americans tried to dupe her into giving up her Soviet passport and that armed Americans have boarded the aircraft and stopped nearby, threatening her with pistols.
"I did not imagine that such things could happen anywhere, to say nothing of 'civilized' America," she reportedly said.
Tass said its correspondent told Vlasova that her mother has sent a letter to President Carter complaining that her daughter's human rights are being violated and calling on the president to allow the plane to leave.
According to the agency, Vlasova said, "Mother, dear, do not worry, everything is going to be okay. I shall soon be in Moscow and we shall meet. I do not doubt it, as behind my back is the whole of our great country."
Whatever the outcome of the confrontation, Godunov's defection not only has struck a blow at the famed Bolshoi, but also at one of its most urable stars, Maya Plisetskaya. She has had Godunov as her partner in a number of productions, notably "Anna Karenina", and the "Carmen Suite," where the tall, muscular Godunov has portrayed young men opposite the aging prima ballerina.
Godnuov's wife is much less well known here, a fact that perhaps contributed to the media's decision during its first 36 hours of reporting the episode to describe her simply as "Soviet citizen V. I. Vlasova."
Whether she decides to retain that citizenship is yet unknown. But it is likely that whatever the outcome, the Vasova incident already has passed into the Soviet propagandists' repertoire, for replaying whenever they feel the audience might benefit from hearing it again.