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Soviet editor criticizes lack of openness

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The Soviet news media still face taboos and high-level resistance in their efforts to practice glasnost (openness), according to the country's senior newspaper editor. Viktor Afanasyev, editor of the Communist Party daily Pravda, made it clear that active resistance to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policies persists inside the party Central Committee.

Opening the Congress of the Journalists Union on Saturday, Mr. Afanasyev spoke of the ``wide choice of methods'' used to prevent criticism or blunt its impact; and he attacked the lenient punishment often given to those found guilty of mistakes or crimes. The tone of the opening speeches, which were summarized at length in yesterday's newspapers, suggest that the congress may mark the intensification of the political struggle against those hostile to Mr. Gorbachev's reforms.

One ``simple but rather powerful'' method of limiting criticism, Afanasyev told the congress, was for the first secretary of a regional party organization - most of whom have Central Committee status - to criticize the national press during a party congress or plenum of the Central Committee. In this way, Afanasyev said, a new taboo is born: Any criticism of that particular regional body could be interpreted as an effort by the media to take its revenge on the regional organization.

Afanasyev, himself a member of the Central Committee, also spoke of the way wrongdoers are sometimes protected by their superiors. ``Those in high places look jealously after their departmental interests.''

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