Kremlin warns: don't follow Poland
The Soviet Union has issed a stern warning to its communist-bloc allies not to follow Poland down the road to economic ruin. The commentary, published in the name of the ruling 14-man Politburo, came at the end of Leonid Brezhnev's traditional series of summer meetings with communist-bloc leaders at his Crimean dacha.
In a length paean to economic cooperation within Comecon, the East-bloc trading community, the Kremlin leaders blasted "sharp crisis phenomena that have occured in Poland."
"Time and time again, the exprience of socialist development shows . . . that countries must carry out realistic economic policies, and must not allow themselves to become overly indebted to capitalis states," the message reads in part.
This "insider's view" -- which is at best a half-truth -- is found at all levels of Soviet society. An airport worker recently told a Westerner in Moscow , "We know the Poles have only themselves to blame for their troubles. If only they hadn't bought all those licenses . . . ."
The harsh tone of the Kremlin warning is not surprising. Westerners in Moscow estimate that all forms of Soviet aid to Poland cost about $10 billion a year, more than $2 billion of it in hard currency.
Last weekend, after meetings between Mr. Brezhnev and Polish leaders Stanislaw Kania and Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Kremlin said it would forgive all Polish debts until the end of the current fiv-year plan --a major concession on the part of the Soviets, who were hoping to receive huge quantities of coal and foodstuffs from Poland during the plan period.
"Poland has now become a liability instead of an asset for the Soviets," noted one Western economist in Moscow.