The State Department yesterday dismissed as "unfounded and inaccurate" allegations by the Soviet KGB chairman that Western countries are attempting to weaken and subvert the Soviet system under the guise of offering assistance.
"We are concerned that such a senior Soviet official would turn to this kind of outdated and inflammatory rhetoric, which can only be described as inconsistent with the improvement that has taken place in both the substance and the atmosphere of U.S.-Soviet relations," deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said.
On Saturday, KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov gave a speech to the Soviet Congress in which he warned that closer Soviet links to the West posed hidden dangers for his country.
"There are attempts from abroad to exert overt and covert pressure on the Soviet Union and to impose doubtful ideas and plans to pull the country out of the difficult situation," Kryuchkov said.
"All these efforts often screen a desire to strengthen not so much us but their own position in our country." Specifically, he accused the West of stimulating a brain drain and of sending contaminated grain.
In reply, Boucher said, "The allegations made the KGB chairman are completely unfounded and inaccurate . . . . The Soviet Union's internal difficulties, as senior Soviet officials themselves have readily admitted, are the result of policies adopted in the past by the country's leaders. They can only be solved with fundamental political and economic reforms."
Kryuchkov's speech occurred nine days after President Bush approved U.S. credit guarantees for Soviet purchases of up to $1 billion in American commodities. He also proposed other ways of helping the Soviets head off economic collapse, including expertise in food distribution. In addition, he waived legislative restrictions on Soviet access to U.S. government credit programs.
Bush said U.S. policy is to "help the Soviet Union stay the course of democracy and to undertake market reforms."
Germany and other West European nations along with Japan also are sending food to the Soviets to help overcome growing shortages.
Kryuchkov also generated concern here in his speech when he said that bloodshed may be required to restore order to the Soviet Union.
Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) said Sunday a Soviet crackdown along the lines threatened by Kryuchkov could lead to a cutoff of U.S. assistance to the Soviets.
"I don't think we should be providing any assistance if there is a crackdown and a return to authoritarian rule," Mitchell said.