MOSCOW -- When Col. Vladimir Petrushenko was studying political ideology as a young officer in the Red Army, his lecturers often described the "ultimate" CIA infiltration of the Soviet Union.
"They said the Communist Party would be destroyed. The army would be undermined. There would be calls for private property and national rights," Petrushenko said, "And now! Look what has happened now! All of it has come true! So why should we trust the United States?"
Petrushenko's deep suspicion of the West is emphatic, but hardly eccentric among many hard-liners in the military, the KGB secret police and the Communist Party apparatus. A leader of Soyuz, a conservative faction in the country's highest legislative body, the Congress of People's Deputies, Petrushenko fiercely attacked Eduard Shevardnadze's foreign policy as "pro-American, pro-Israeli, anti-Soviet" -- leading Shevardnadze to refer bitterly to the assaults in his resignation speech last week.
After nearly six years characterized by Mikhail Gorbachev's overtures to the West and his penchant for Western political and economic reforms, a certain xenophobia is often characteristic of the new authoritarian surge. KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov accused the West last weekend of cheating Moscow with shipments of poisoned grain and trying to hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union by funding "anti-Communist" nationalist groups in the republics and inspiring a massive "brain drain."
"There are attempts from abroad to exert overt and covert pressure on the Soviet Union and to impose doubtful ideas," Kryuchkov said. "All these efforts often screen a desire to strengthen not so much us but their own position in our country."
The Russian ambivalence toward the West has deep historical roots. When the 18th century czar Peter the Great built the city on the Neva that is now called Leningrad, he tried to lift the country's traditional isolation and create a "window on the West." Aristocratic and intellectual circles began speaking French, opening up trade routes. But many provincial Russians despised this new class of traders and ministers who wore no beards and affected foreign accents.
Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Bolshevik state, lived in exile for years in London, Zurich and other European capitals. But his instincts were anti-Western. He had nothing but contempt for parliamentary democracy, immediately dissolving the Constituent Assembly after learning that the Bolsheviks had won only a minority of the seats. After the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin quickly moved the capital from "the window on the West" back to the Russian interior, back to Moscow.
The newly emergent conservatives have about as much affection for the "Westernizers" in the current Moscow and Leningrad elite as the provincials of the 18th century had for the circle of Peter the Great. There is hatred for anything that reeks of the West: music videos and parliamentary democracy, McDonald's and private farms.
To be sure, a virulent anti-Western strain can be found in the pre-perestroika books of numerous radical reformers, including Vitaly Korotich, the editor of the liberal weekly Ogonyok, and Alexander Yakovlev, a former Gorbachev adviser known as the architect of glasnost. But those books have a dutiful Cold War feel, works of rote obedience to an old, immovable party line, while the current anti-Western speeches and articles are clearly a credo of sorts.
The leading journals of the anti-Western faction are Molodaya Gvardia (Young Guard), Nash Sovremenik (Our Contemporary) and Literaturnaya Rossiya, the house organ of the conservative Russian writers' union.
Last month's issue of Molodaya Gvardia was a veritable cornucopia of hatred: hatred of the West, hatred of Jews "and their agents," hatred of all that is "alien" to Great Russia. "Dark forces" in the West, it said, are responsible for "sowing ethnic strife" in the Soviet Union and forcing Soviet troops into a war with Iraq "that will be in the interests of the Americans and the Zionists."
Russian President Boris Yeltsin's plan to make Russia a nuclear-free zone, the journal said, "will make Russia a marionette of Western Zionism without a single shot being fired. One clearly sees a plan to draw the world into yet another world war in which Russians and other Slavs will be the cheap cannon fodder. A new spiral of historical genocide is being plotted against us."
The list of enemies ranges from the late oil tycoon Armand Hammer to Radio Liberty to the Big Mac ("too fast and very unhealthy"). Like Kryuchkov, Molodaya Gvardia is suspicious of foreign goods, cautioning readers against "poisonous metals" from Iceland, "cancer-producing shampoos" from Poland and "contaminated breadboxes and shopping bags" from Vietnam.
As for the current rush of foreign food aid, the magazine warns: "Beware of strangers bearing gifts!"
At a recent congress of the Russian writers' union held at the Soviet Army Theater, conservative authors including Yuri Bondarev and Stanislav Kunayev celebrated the army's leadership while decrying Gorbachev. The Soviet leader's fame and following in the West was, for the writers, proof of his duplicity and failure. Yakovlev and Shevardnadze were dismissed snidely as "our knights of Malta," while reformers such as Yeltsin, Korotich, historian Yuri Afanasyev, economist Nikolai Shmyelov and sociologist Tatyana Zaslavskaya were denounced as traitors.
"The sustenance of the liberals, the so-called 'democrats,' has been Western propaganda," said Petrushenko, the conservative legislator. "We have two camps now in this country: the democrats and the patriots. The democrats have had their day. We, the patriots, will now dictate the future direction of the country. We are people who don't rush off to the U.S. to read lectures or open foreign bank accounts. We stay at home and think through our plans for the future of a great Russia."
At one session of the Congress of People's Deputies this week, Petrushenko went after the United States once more, accusing the CIA of funding the Inter-Regional Group of radical deputies.
In interviews, some of Gorbachev's closest advisers, including foreign affairs specialist Georgi Shakhnazarov and the army's chief of staff, Gen. Mikhail Moiseyev, said that while there is some suspicion of the West left over from the propaganda of the Cold War, such opinions are still in the minority in the leadership.
As if to dramatize the post-Cold War "new thinking," the Foreign Ministry announced today that Western reporters will be allowed to visit many cities that had been closed for years, including Magadan, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk and Kaliningrad. Little wonder that the hard-liners have denounced the ministry and Shevardnadze as "bastions of capitulation."
Petrushenko claimed that he has both "explicit and implicit" support from the country's military leaders. He described being summoned for a meeting by the defense minister, Marshal Dmitri Yazov, with his "like-minded colonel," fellow Soyuz leader Viktor Alksnis.
"He told us to tone down the rhetoric but we told him it was our patriotic duty," Petrushenko said. "Somehow, Marshal Yazov didn't seem to mind us very much."