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Poland after Gromyko

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Everyone knows the Russians are deeply worried about the historic events taking place in Poland. The question inevitably is: worried enough to move troops in to put down the popular movement for democratization? Now that Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko has come and gone from Warsaw, those watching the unfolding drama can still say, "Not for the moment. So far so good."

The joint communique issued following the Gromyko meeting indicates that the Russians have accepted the holding of the upcoming special Polish party congress at which Poland's future political and economic course is to be determined. Whether their restraint continues will depend on the outcome of that all-important gathering. Presumably Moscow has been somewhat relieved by the fact that President Kania managed to maneuver the election of many party conservatives as delegates to the congress as a counterweight to the many unionists and reformers also chosen. The challenge before Poland now will be to maintain a sufficient political balance in the new leadership so as to satisfy Moscow that the communist party has not lost control of events, i.e. that "good communists" have not been sacrificed in favor of "anti-Soviet" radical reformers.

The Gromyko talks may prove useful to Mr. Kania. The President's position has been greatly strengthened both within the party and among the Polish people by the recent heavy-handed attempt of the Kremlin to undermine him. He stood up openly and forthrightly against Moscow's charges that the party was under attack by subversive elements and this boosted his stature in Pole's eyes. Now he can use the Gromyko visit in the other direction -- to warn the party that it must be careful to elect a Central Committee and Politburo acceptable to the Kremlin. Given the mood among the out-and-out reformers, this obviously will be no easy task. Yet the Poles have managed their "renewal" movement with such political finesse so far that hope remains they will succeed.


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