Not even suggestions by Soviet officials themselves on the obvious way for the third international book fair to avoid scandal helped in the end. Six books were still confiscated at the opening Sept. 2, meaning that the book fair hailed by its Soviet organizers as an agent of peace and progress was once again tainted.
Never mind that in 1979, the last fair, over 40 titles were confiscated from Americans alone.The damage was done.
"You can always depend on them to shoot themselves in the foot," said one skeptical Western observer.
In addition, the official news agency Tass announced on the same day that Soviet author and dissident Anatoly Marchenko was on trial in the town of Vladimir for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda," Charges that could earn him seven years in a labor camp and five years' internal exile.
Marchenko is listed by the American Association of Publishers among those to be honored at an "alternative" Moscow book fair reception in New York, Sept. 14. The APP declined the invitation to this year's event in Moscow.
Marchenko, who wrote "My Testimony" about his time in prison camps, was invited to the Moscow reception after the 1979 fair.
Soviet authorities took two books from the exhibit of the Association of Jewish Book Publishers on Sept. 2, one from the Israeli Pavilion, and three from the Moscow Book Fair exhibit, a New York State group representing 103 publishers.
Defying logic, the censors took the children's version of former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban's "My People: A History of the Jews" but left the original version. They also confiscated "The American-Jewish YEarbook: 1981." Both included passages incorrectly depicting the Soviet attitude toward Jews, the Soviet officials said.
They seized Shmuel Ettinger's "History of the Jewish People" because of its references to former dictator Joseph Stalin's designs against what he saw as a "doctors' plot," said Israel Export Institute representative Baruch Pintow.