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How Sincere Are Soviet Reform Efforts?

Regarding the article "Lithuania Anticipates Kremlin Clash," June 5: The Soviet prosecutor's report on the January killings in Vilnius, mentioned in the article, is radically at odds with the accounts of Western eyewitnesses. The Soviets' continued use of the Big Lie raises grave doubts regarding the sincerity of Mikhail Gorbachev's pronouncements in favor of reform, particularly since his recent performance in this area has been rather lackluster.It could well be that glasnost and perestroika were conceived for the purpose of strategic deception, as alleged by KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn, but once events were set in motion they accumulated such momentum that Gorbachev lost control. A careful evaluation of all the available evidence may show this scenario to be more plausible than that of Gorbachev as the democratic reformer. The implications with respect to the granting of massive aid to the Soviet Union are obvious. N. L. Wielkiewicz Schenectady, N.Y.

Africa ready to lead world Regarding the opinion-page column "Critical Choice: a New UN Chief," June 10: The implication that an African candidate for UN secretary-general would be a "regional candidate" is both disquieting and outlandish. Is United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar a representative of South America? Was Dag Hammarskjold a regional candidate from Scandinavia? Africa is just as much a part of the global neighborhood as any other region and a qualified African is just as capable of world leadership as anyone else. The leading African candidates have the experience, vision, and leadership to head up the UN in the 1990s, as it seeks to broaden its mandate and streamline its operations to meet the daunting agenda of the coming decade. Jack Yost, New York, World Association for World Federation

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Crime in Czechoslovakia The author of the perceptive opinion-page article "Freedom's Burden," June 5, is to be congratulated. Considering that he visited our country for all of six weeks and does not speak our language, it is an impressive achievement. However, two points of fact need be noted. Although our crime rate has risen, it remains at less than half that of neighboring Vienna, and one-twentieth that of New York. To speak of "mayhem" is misleading: This is still one of the safest places in Europe and incomparably safer than the United States. The second point is that though many of the prisoners released under President Vaclav Havel's amnesty were indeed common criminals, the proportion of crimes for which they are responsible is entirely commensurate with their number as a percentage of the population. The increased crime rate cannot be blamed on them. Erazim Kohak, Prague