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Informal Sample Shows Not Many Read Reagan Interview

November 5, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ Informal interviews with Muscovites today showed not many people had read President Reagan’s interview with four Soviet journalists. Those who had read the text in the government newspaper Izvestia said they were wary of his remarks.

The article - which omitted such remarks by Reagan as the presence of Soviet troops in Afghanistan - so far has appeared only in the Monday evening editions of Izvestia, which devoted a full page to the interview and another page to the interviewers’ criticism of Reagan’s statements.

Of about two dozen people queried about the interview during lunch hour in central Moscow’s busy Arbat shopping district, only two said they had read it.

Others said they had not yet had time, or had heard nothing about it.

″I read Komsomolskaya, Pravda and Sovietsky sport,″ said one man. ″Was it in those?″

Monday night, a Tass summary was read on the evening national television news program Vremya, or Time. Tass did not run a text of the interview, though it carried the lengthy ″rebuttal″ by the journalists from Tass, the Communist Party daily Pravda, Izvestia and the government press agency Novosti.

But today, newspapers did not carry the journalists’ rebuttal and made no mention Reagan was interviewed last week in Washington for 30 minutes. It was the first such print interview of a U.S. president since 1961.

People who studied the interview or heard about it generally agreed with Izvestia’s criticism of Reagan’s statements and expressed the Kremlin view of American policies.

″He showed no concreteness or clarity, and I would say there were contradictory statements,″ said a 54-year-old engineer from Krasnodar, visiting Moscow for this week’s anniversary celebration of 1917 revolution.

The engineer said he thought Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was more open in his interview last summer with Time magazine.

″When Gorbachev met with the American editors, he was more concise, more clear,″ said the man, who declined to give his name. ″Our policy is more frank and open and consistent.

″I like that which Reagan says about peace, about wanting peace,″ he said, but added he hopes to see something positive in a joint document after Reagan’s summit in Geneva on Nov. 19-20 with Gorbachev.

A 22-year-old student who also didn’t want to be identified said she would like to see more such interviews in the Soviet press with American leaders and officials from other nations.

As for Reagan’s comments, she was a bit skeptical. ″He was as honest as he could be,″ she said.

″I am glad that the dialogue has at least started,″ said Julia Kuptsova, a 27-year-old design engineer from Moscow.

″It is already major progress,″ she said. ″I hope that our diplomacy in Geneva will have a positive result. We have great hopes.″

An elderly man and his wife who said they served in the Soviet Army during World War II had not yet read the article, but planned to soon.

″Of course we know about it,″ the woman said. ″We must live in peace. We both are veterans and we experienced a lot.″

Several people said they had not even heard about the interview, but expressed interest in studying it if they could obtain a copy.

″Of course it is necessary to read it,″ one middle-aged man said when shown a copy of Izvestia.

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