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KGB chief: sophisticated, but not soft

In his one recent official appearance, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov projected the image of a very modern intelligence chief - stressing the complexity of the modern world, the need for more sophisticated analysis, and even opining that the present conservative cycle of United States politics is on the wane. He also noted, however, that foreign intelligence activities should be increased. Mr. Kryuchkov expressed these views in a speech delivered late July, but published this month in the journal International Life. At the time Kryuchkov was only one of three KGB deputy chairmen: His promotion this month over the heads of more senior officials has led analysts to conclude that he was the personal choice of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

His predecessor, Viktor Chebrikov, warned regularly that Western intelligence agencies were intensifying action against the Soviet Union. Kryuchkov noted the ambivalence and concern of some Western leaders at positive changes in the Soviet Union, but did not claim that subversion was on the increase. (Later in his speech, in fact, he called for a ``more sober and profound'' evaluation of Western intelligence activities.) Instead he placed greater emphasis on the advantages of change in the Soviet Union. These had helped erode the country's image as hostile, totalitarian, and half civilized, he told his listeners.

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Kryuchkov called for a more sophisticated approach to the outside world: There should be more contact with Western politicians and businessmen, he said. ``We are sluggish and insufficiently consistent in our struggle for their minds,'' he continued. ``It's apparently easier to create enemies than win allies.'' Soviet policymakers should be thinking seriously about the implications of European integration in 1992, he added.

But he also called for the KGB to concentrate on more traditional areas of intelligence: strategic arms and US development of new weaponry.

Referring to Afghanistan, he slipped into language that will bring back memories to his US counterparts. A ``light'' has appeared at the end of the ``long and gloomy tunnel'' leading to an Afghan settlement, he declared.

Afghan leader Najibullah, sounding more and more like a South Vietnamese leader in 1975, put things a little differently in a speech published here yesterday. The opposition's armed strength has doubled in the last four months, he said, and Afghan troops now have to fight alone, without Soviet military support. ``But the situation is not hopeless.''

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