The State Department yesterday categorically rejected charges by the Soviet Union that U.S. diplomats had incited recent demonstrations in Moscow by Crimean Tatars who are seeking recognition of their homeland.
The Soviet news agency Tass said Thursday that the Foreign Ministry had delivered an oral protest accusing U.S. diplomats of trying to inspire nationalistic protests and antisocial actions by the Tatars.
State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman said one of the most important embassy functions is to maintain contacts with a broad spectrum of the local population.
"There is nothing illegal or improper in this," Redman said.
He added: "The Department of State categorically rejects Soviet allegations of improper activities by embassy officers in connection with demonstrations by Crimean Tatars in Moscow."
In actions unprecedented in recent decades, scores of Tatars conducted a three-day vigil at the Kremlin wall in the center of Moscow last week and scuffled with police last weekend.
"We try to maintain contact with as many different elements in the Soviet population as possible, including the Tatars. This has nothing to do with the absurd charges of inciting riots," Redman said.
The Tatars seek an autonomous homeland in the Crimean peninsula, which juts into the Black Sea.