Soviet Politburo member Mikhail Suslov returned to Moscow today amid strong signs his one-day talks with Polish communist leaders in Warsaw yesterday were marked by tension and disagreement.
In the absence of direct information on Suslov's surprise mission to the capital of Moscow's troubled ally, Western diplomatic sources inferred discord from an official Soviet Tass press agency communique which declared that "the talks were held in a cordial party atmosphere."
This formulation is significantly cooler in tone than the usual "unanimity of views" or "warm and friendly discussions" used to characterize harmonious meetings between leaders of neighboring communist states. Vetern Western sources placed a deeply pessimistic interpretation on the Tass dispatch, saying it can leave little doubt of serious disagreements over the pace and direction of Poland's liberalization between the Kremlin and Stanislaw Kania, the Polish party's first secretary.
[Reports from Warsaw implied the same level of disagreement, but suggested that the Polish leadership stood its ground and defended the need for change in the talks with Suslov. Preparations for reform in Poland were proceeding as planned. Details on Page A19.]
Through their news media and direct Central Committee pressure that has recently come to light in Warsaw, the Soviets have made bluntly clear they are unhappy with the liberalization process gaining momentum within the Polish party. They also have voiced misgivings about Kania's failure to mastermind a crackdown either on the Solidarity independent union movement or the dissident group known as the Social Self-Defense Committee (KOR).
One source said it is likely that Suslov renewed Moscow's demand of early this month that Polish hardliners Stefan Olszowski and Tadeusz Grabski must not be purged from the Polish Politburo in the upcoming Central Committee meeting next week. At the last Central Committee session a few weeks ago, the Soviet Centrl Committee was reported to have specifically intervened to preserve Olszowski and Grabski from being ousted by moderates and increasingly strong liberals.
It is unclear what form Suslov's demands yesterday might have taken. But sources did not rule out the possibility that the 78-year-old guardian of Marxist orthodoxy, who has been in Kremlin leadership positions since Stalin's last years, was tough and condemnatory of the Poles.
Foreign diplomats pointed out that the Tass communique lacked any direct expression of confidence by Suslov and his group in the ability of Kania and Polish Premier Wojeiech Jaruzelski to preserve communist authority in Poland. Diplomats have closely watched how the Kremlin regards the two as possible key to Soviet invasion inclinations.
Tass said the Poles told the Soviets of their efforts "at overcoming the consequences of the departure from the principles of scientific socialism and at creating conditions for Poland's harmonious socialist development," and that the Moscow group expressed "solidarity for the Polish communists' efforts to defend socialism and stabilize the socio-economic situation, to strengthen the party on the ideological basis of Marxism-Leninism."
The thrust of the communique, as seen from here, was to continue recent Kremlin indications that it is opening some distance between itself and Kania in recent weeks. The Soviets have said little about the subject of the upcoming Polish party elections and the special party congress later this summer, but they are known to be deeply worried about it.
However, Tass implied that Suslov accepted continued Polish preparations for the session, saying the Poles had "characterized the main directions in the preparation for the ninth emergency congress." Tass added: "The great importance of uniting all patriotic forces of the people was stressed, to avert the threats to the gains of socialism, counteract attempts . . . by opponents to bring anarchy, undermine the socialist state and establish dual authority in the country."
Analysts pointed as well to the communique's noting that the Poles and Soviets "oppose any forms of interference in Poland's domestic affairs on the part of imperialist circles." This was seen as strengthening anew Moscow's position under the Brezhnev doctrine that the Warsaw Pact can intervene to preserve socialism in the East Bloc.
Suslov was accompanied by Konstantin Rusakov, 72, a party secretary in charge of relations with the East Bloc countries.