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Deputy Attacked First By Gorbachev, Then Soviet Press

October 22, 1989

MOSCOW (AP) _ Days after Mikhail Gorbachev called for his ouster from the Communist Party, parliamentarian Yuri Afanasyev has come under attack from the state-run press in a campaign reminiscent of those waged against dissidents before the glasnost era.

The attacks, which came nearly every day last week, have centered on the maverick historian’s harsh criticism of the party and his siding with Japan in a territorial dispute with the Kremlin.

Such repeated harsh criticism of political activists by name is rare under glasnost, Gorbachev’s policy of openness, and appears a throwback to the rule of President Leonid I. Brezhnev. In those days, such attacks often preceded the jailing or exiling of dissidents.

Afanasyev, 55, is head of the Moscow State Historical Archives Institute and a member of the Congress of People’s Deputies.

In an Oct. 13 meeting, Gorbachev reportedly accused Afanasyev and two economists of joining with Communist legislator Boris N. Yeltsin to form ″a fascist clique striving for power.″

They men belong to a parliamentary opposition group. Informed Soviet sources said Gorbachev told the meeting Afanasyev should be thrown out of the Communist Party.

The historian was traveling out of the country Sunday and unavailable for comment.

Afanasyev was well known to intellectuals nationwide for his participation in ″Memorial,″ a group trying to build a monument and research center in memory of the victims of dictator Josef Stalin’s terror.

He gained wider fame in a nationally televised speech in May to the Congress of People’s Deputies.

With Gorbachev looking on, Afanasyev said the Soviet leader had either listened to or influenced an ″aggressively obedient majority″ in the Congress to elect a ″Brezhnevist-Stalinist″ Supreme Soviet. The Supreme Soviet is the full-time legislature.

The state-run press and other deputies criticized Afanasyev for his remarks at the time.

On Tuesday, the Russian party daily Sovietsksya Rossiya said Afanasyev believes the official ideology of Marxism-Leninism is outmoded. It asked: ″Isn’t it more honest for him to leave the party?″

On the same day, the central party daily Pravda quoted Afanasyev as telling a Leningrad meeting that the party has no authority and in 70 years of power has led the country nowhere.

Pravda said Afanasyev, who appears frequently at rallies of unofficial political groups and speaks in a booming baritone, never backs up his charges and has turned from historian to priest.

Pravda took the campaign a step further Friday with an article titled ″Irresponsibility″ - referring to comments Afanasyev made two days earlier in Tokyo at a symposium on Gorbachev’s reform program.

According to the Asahi Evening News, Afanasyev told the meeting he feels the Soviet Union should return four islands Japan wants because the dispute over them, dating back to World War II, is preventing normal relations.

The Soviets occupied the Kuril Islands, north of Hokkaido, after the end of fighting in 1945 and have refused to return them.

Pravda reported Afanasyev’s remarks but did not point out that he said they were his personal opinion.

It told Soviet readers the Japanese have found ″among our countrymen an open and extremely active ally″ in the dispute.

The capital’s local party newspaper, Moskovskaya Pravda, joined the campaign Saturday, reprinting an article from Afanasyev’s home district newspaper accusing him of trying to discredit the party.