In a sharp rebuke nine days before the West German elections, the government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl accused the Soviet Union today of blatant interference in the political campaign and warned against propaganda efforts designed to split the western alliance.
The attack came a day after Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, in an interview with the Soviet newspaper Pravda, urged West Europeans to "show signs of political maturity" by resisting deployment of American-built nuclear missiles. Soviets here distributed the interview widely in German translation.
The government's charges of Soviet meddling drew broad support across the political spectrum. Egon Bahr, the opposition Social Democrats' disarmament expert, who has often denounced U.S. arms control policy, rejected Gromyko's appeal. "After all," he said, "it is the fault of the Soviet Union that there was no security for Europe without the United States."
Government spokesman Juergen Sudhoff charged in a press conference that the Gromyko interview and broadcasts by Radio Moscow reflected "the massive and unprecedented manner in which the Soviet Union is interfering in the election campaign and internal politics of the Federal Republic of Germany."
He said a recent German-language program beamed from Moscow represented "a particularly striking, unabashed attempt to separate the Europeans from the Americans."
The Soviet broadcast dwelt on the economic problems faced by West Germany and predicted social unrest if Kohl's center-right coalition wins a new term in the March 6 elections.
Declaring that the broadcast clearly was not meant solely for the Soviet listeners, Sudhoff said, "The grossness of this attack was impressive."
Sudhoff, noting that West Germany was interested in cooperation and good relations with the Soviet Union, said: "We have shown great patience so far, but now it is time for the realities to be recognized."
The Soviet campaign has intensified recently, with ominous warnings about the consequences of deploying the Pershing II and cruise missiles later this year if arms-control talks in Geneva between the United States and the Soviet Union fail.
The Soviet news agency Novosti charged earlier this week that the blind faith shown by the Kohl government in U.S. policy would lead West Germany to "the nuclear gallows." Another article, from Izvestia, warned that West Germans must decide whether to "live in a peaceful house" or serve "the purposes of U.S. war doctrine."
In the Pravda interview, Gromyko insisted that West Europeans could not afford to adopt "the role of uninvolved observers or popularizers of the American position" in the negotiations and should "speak up clearly for a just solution," based on Soviet proposals to reduce the number of Soviet SS20 missiles to a level equivalent to the 162 missiles deployed by France and Britain. This, he added, would serve as proof of Europe's political maturity.
Gromyko blamed the Reagan administration for lack of progress in the arms talks and ruled out partial-deployment schemes or further negotiations once the missiles were installed, saying such an action "would create a qualitatively different situation."
Diplomats here described Gromyko as unusually blunt in his call for Europeans to assert a more independent line on security issues.
The unanimous disapproval among parties in government and opposition showed the depth of annoyance over Moscow's persistent interventions during the election campaign.
The head of the Bundestag (parliamentary lower house) foreign affairs committee, Christian Democrat Werner Marx, declared that Gromyko "had let the cat out of the bag" effectively proving the Soviet Union is only interested in exploiting the Geneva arms talks to drive a wedge between Europe and the United States.
Foreign Ministry officials said there was strong resentment about the way the Soviets distributed the Pravda interview, translated into German, to all major newspapers here. "If we in the West were to do similar things in Poland or East Germany, for example, telling those countries to assert their interests more strongly, Moscow would hardly like it," Juergen Moellemann, state minister for foreign affairs, said.
Christian Democratic politicians charged that Social Democrats' views on the missiles have encouraged the Soviets. The Social Democrats' candidate for chancellor, Hans-Jochen Vogel, last week sent a letter to President Reagan urging him to show more flexibility in the arms talks.