Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov "tratorously" allowed himself to be used by foreign intelligence services seeking Soviet state secrets, the government newspaper Izvestia charged today in a broad attack on the dissident physicist who was banished to internal exile yesterday.
Charging that the Soviet Union's most commanding dissident figure had "embarked on the road of direct betrayal of the interests of our motherland," the harsh attack stopped just short of accusing Sakharov of deliberate treason, a capital crime. The denunciation, carried under a large headline on the paper's best-read back page, also was repeated in shorter versions on television news programs, pointing up the importance Moscow has given to discrediting Sakharov.
The carefully worded article strongly implies the Soviets may be holding in reserve a formal criminal charge against the physicist, 58, seized here yesterday by the secret police and exiled with his wife. The Sakharovs reportedly were sent to the closed city of Gorki.
[The Associated Press reported that relatives and friends of the Sakharovs said Wednesday night that the physicist and his wife sent telegrams from Gorki saying, "Everything all right."]
Izvestia alleged taht Sakharov, who helped mastermind the Soviet hydrogen bomb program in the 1950s and 1960s befor turning to the cause of individual freedoms, "repeatedly blurted out things which any state protects as an important secret" during many "intensive, unofficial meetings" with U.S. diplomats and correspondents here.
He became known to the West as a "Trojan horse in the socialist camp," Izvestia said, "and new provocations are expected of him and not for free, of course. A traitor is a traitor precisely because he sells himself out."
The article suggests the outlines of a case that could eventually be lodged against Sakharov. The allegations are similar to those made by the KGB against dissident Anatoly Scharansky, who was convicted in a 1978 political trial of treason and imprisoned for 13 years.
The alleged linkage of dissidents, secrets, and U.S. correspondents and diplomats has been a recurring theme in the protracted campaign to suppress Soviet dissidents, who surfaced boldly during the dentente years but who now have been decimated by jailings, expulsion, and fear. The Izvestia article is clearly aimed at angrily rebuffing President Carter, who personally supported Sakharov, and has condemned the banishment together with many other foreign leaders.
Foreign ire was highlighted here today when French National Assembly President Jacques Chaban-Delmas abruptly cut short an official visit to the Soviet Union in protest over the exiling of Sakharov, which apparently took place just an hour after Chaban-Delmas met in the Kremlin with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev yesterday afternoon.
"The announcement of measures against a famous physicist leads me to cut short my visit," the French leader said in a statement given reporters. "As a guest of the Soviet leaders, I cannot intervene in this affair without interference in the internal affairs of the U.S.S.R." Chaban-Delmas headed back to Paris after reporting that he and Brezhnev had differed over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Izvestia article attempts to explain how a much-honored, priviledged member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences could become an anit-Soviet subversionist by painting Sakharov as an "extremely vain and conceited" man who tired of his position as the Soviet Union's preeminent theoretical physicist.
After deciding to "seek prominence in politics," wrote Izvestia reporter A. Batmanov, Sakharov called for the "horrendously absurd surrender" of socialism to imperialism "to remove the threat of thermonuclear war." This attracted "imperialist" Western agents and "feelers were sent out" from diplomats and correspondents, "mostly Americans."
The academician, who yesterday was stripped of all state honors by order of the national parliament headed by Brezhnev, soon became author of "all sorts of statements in which mud was flung at the Soviet people, our state, our socialist system, our domestic and foreign policy." He began "regularly" visiting the U.S. Embassy, where his "blurted" secrets were hotly debated by the diplomats.
"Slanderous anti-Soviet statements" authored by Sakharov produced "hundreds of anti-Soviet porgrams" beamed into the Soviet Union by Western radio stations, Izvestia said. The assertion points up the Kremlin's apprehension over the impact of foreign broadcasting on the attitudes of the Soivet people, and the weight Sakharov's name may have carried.
Investia said Sakharov's 1975 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded "not for any scientific discoveries but for the 'discovery' made in the West that he is a fierce anti-Soviet." It said he "systematically incites aggressive capitalist circles to interfere in the internal affairs of socialist countries, to warlike confrontation with the Soviet Union."
Sakharov has repeatedly called upon the West to beware of Soviet expansionism. In the days just before his exile, he supported an Olympic boycott and urged world condemnation of the Afghan invasion.
Izvestia traced a line from what it called the "generation of fascists and murderers" who betrayed the Soviet Union in the cold war to modern-day turncoats recruited by the West to commit treason under the guise of victims of the violtions of human rights.
Izvestia did not mention Sakharov's wife, Elena Bonner, nor did it say where they are now sequestered, or for how long they will be exiled. Their banishment was under "appropriate administrative law," it said.