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News In Brief

Soviets cite bureaucracy, not nature, in Arctic peril

The Communist Party newspaper Pravda blamed poor weather forecasting and inefficient port facilities Thursday for the disaster that has stranded four convoys of Soviet ships in frozen Arctic seas.

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Analyzing the background to the three-week drama, Pravda said weathermen had given entirely wrong predictions and told shipping that navigation channels would remain free of ice until Oct. 6. According to latest reports, seven ships are still hemmed in.

By attaching blame to government bureaucracies, Pravda reflected a new approach to domestic problems since President Yuri Andropov came to power. Under Leonid Brezhnev, the news media almost invariably said nature was responsible for accidents or economic setbacks, wherever this was possible, and avoided censuring official departments.