News In Brief
Chernenko's '85 agenda: more buildup on defense
Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko, giving his first indication of how he plans to steward the Soviet economy in the future, says his government will ''strengthen the country's defense capability.'' He said the move was necessary because ''we cannot fail to see the growing aggressiveness of imperialism.''
The announcement came in a speech before the ruling Communist Party Politburo Thursday, in which Mr. Chernenko outlined the country's 1985 economic plan.
While the version of the speech released by Tass, the Soviet news agency, did not reveal specific figures, it said that a strengthening of defense capability - usually code words for increased military spending - was planned.
Western analysts do not place much stock in the country's published figures for military expenditures anyway, since they assume that the actual total is much higher than the Soviets admit. Still, Western analysts say that increases in the published figures do sometimes give a rough indication of Soviet intentions in the military sphere.
Chernenko dwelt on other problems facing the Soviet economy. But instead of outlining bold economic initiatives, he resorted to a standard practice of the Soviet leadership: exhorting Soviet citizens to work harder. Higher productivity , he said, will account for ''nearly all growth of the national income.''
Chernenko also indicated the plan would place greater reliance on ''foreign economic ties,'' especially with other East-bloc countries. He said the next meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee - slated for later this month - would dwell upon ''accelerating scientific and technical progress.'' That is perhaps yet another indication that the country is falling further behind the West in high technology.
Chernenko did say that there would be a fourfold expansion of the number of government ministries taking part in ''experiments'' aimed at economic reform, but he did not announce any bold initiatives to modernize or streamline the huge Soviet economic machine.