Soviet authorities resorted to censorship last night to erase from a documentary film the footage showing the late Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.
The action involved a joint Soviet-Indian production of a documentary about Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister. The Indian version of the film shows Khrushchev meeting and conferring with Nehru and also includes lengthy footage on Khrushchev's triumphal tour of India.
Soviet censors, however, have eliminated Khrushchev from the hour-long segment of the film.
However, Marshal Nikolai Bulganin, who served as Soviet premier under Khrushchev and who was subsequently disgraced for alleged "antiparty" activities, made his first appearance on Soviet television screens in more than a quarter of a century.
Bulganin was ousted from the Politburo and all other positions after 1957, when Khrushchev defeated the so-called "antiparty" group of Stalinist opponents, including former foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and such senior figures as Georgi Malenkov and Lazar Kaganovich.
Only Molotov was rehabilitated, when he was readmitted to the Communist Party last year at age 93.
Political observers here noted that the decision to eliminate Khrushchev from the film reflects continued concern here about the controversial leader who was ousted in a Kremlin coup in 1964.
It remains a mystery why Soviet censors continue to eliminate Khrushchev from all films and publications while finding a member of the "antiparty" group and China's much reviled Mao Tse-tung acceptable for wide audiences.
The Indians were reported to have insisted on the inclusion of Khrushchev along with other world figures with whom Nehru had dealings -- France's Charles de Gaulle, U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito, China's Mao and Chou En-lai, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indonesia's Sukarno and West Germany's Konrad Adenauer, among others. The dispute was said to have delayed the completion of the film, with the Russians eventually yielding to the personal insistence of the late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi that Khrushchev be included in the film.
That decision was rescinded, however, when the film was to be screened on Soviet television.
Since his ouster in 1964, the name of Khrushchev has appeared here only three times. One reference involved Soviet criticism of his memoirs published in the West. The second was the announcement of his death. The third and only positive mention of his name was made in the authoritative party monthly Kommunist on the 40th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad. Khrushchev was the senior political leader in Stalingrad during the crucial battle in 1942-43.
While Khrushchev continues as a nonperson, Joseph Stalin, the dictator whom Khrushchev turned into a nonperson during his tenure as Soviet leader, is now enjoying a modest rennaissance.
Friday's issue of the Communist Party newspaper Pravda referred to Stalin by his full titles during World War II and described the full concentration of all authority in his hands as a "successful" solution to the issue of party unity and state and military leadership.
Proposals have been reported here to restore the name of Stalingrad to the city where one of the main World War II battles took place. Khrushchev, during his anti-Stalin drive, had renamed the city Volgograd.
The proposal to restore the name Stalingrad was said to have been advanced by a group of war veterans in connection with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in May.