Muscovites-in-the street freely predict: 'No bloodshed in Poland!'
the foreign experts here will tell you it's still not clear what the Soviets are going to do about Poland. But on Moscow street corners, the verdict seems all but unanimous:
"The situation is calming down," announced a burly blond laborer in a soiled orange T-shirt.
"There will be no bloodshed in POland," added a young student from Moscow's Institute for Foreign Language Study.
"You heard Grishim, didn't you?" began a well-dressed party-liner toting a briefcase, referring to the chief Soviet delegate at Poland's current emergency communist congress.
"He said the Poles, themselves, should work thins out. . . . And they will."
This, of course, remains to be seen. Viktor Grishin, the middle-level Politburo member sent to the Warsaw congress, delivered the closest thing to a Soviet vote of confidence seen in months.
His speech, reprinted in full here, also stressed continued Soviet concern over events in Poland and ultimately closed no Kremlin options in responding to the crisis.
The consensus among foreign analysts here was that Soviet pressure on the Poles had eased somewhat -- a July 14 report of Soviet-Polish-East German naval exercises notwithstanding -- but that future Moscow policy would depend much upon what actually emerges from, and after, the congress.
Most Muscovites seem ready to cross that particular analytical bridge when, or if, they come to it. Meanwhile, it is summer here. It is time for old men to play chess in the park. A few younger couples stroll arm in arm, beaming.
Markets are brimming with plump, if pricey, produce from small family farm plots. Cherries go, rather briskly, for about $4.60 a pound. The occasional grandmotherly figure can be seen peddling raspberries on the roadside. On another roadside, cheaper, state-farm tomatoes have drawn a patient line of women whose ever-ready shopping bags are meant for just such a find.
There is plenty to think about besides Poland.
Nor has there ever been much love lost between most Muscovites, it appears, and the Poles. From the days of old Russia the nations have been rivals. Many people here also seem to resent the large amounts of aid the Soviets have been funneling to a country that, to hear some in Moscow tell it, would rather argue than work.
At one of Moscow's summer rites, its international film festival, they showed a classic piece of Hollywood a few days ago called "Escape to Victory." It is slick tale of good guys (World War II Allies from a POW camp) and bad guys (the Nazis) who meet in a presumably mythical soccer game.
At the end, as the credits rolled up, the Russian viewers rewarded the victorious Allies with applause: first, the Brazilian superstar Pele. And there was British actor Michael Caine, America's Sylvester Stallone. Then came a Polish player. The theater was silent.
Still, Moscow's midday strollers seem convinced things are going a little better in Poland, and generally relieved at the tought.
Mr. Grishin's remarks seem to have been taken as one sign of encouragement, the relative de-emphasis of the Polish crisis by Soviet state media in recent days as another one.
"In the end," said one young man, not elaborating, "it boils down to a question of war and peace. Of course, peace is better."