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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
90MOSCOW5204
1990-02-13 16:26:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

MUTED SOVIET REACTION TO MANDELA'S RELEASE

Tags:   PREL  UR  SF 
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R 131626Z FEB 90
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6874
INFO/RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1186
AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG
AMCONSUL DURBAN
AMEMBASSY HARARE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 05204 

E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR
TAGS: PREL UR SF
SUBJECT: MUTED SOVIET REACTION TO MANDELA'S RELEASE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 05204

E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR
TAGS: PREL UR SF
SUBJECT: MUTED SOVIET REACTION TO MANDELA'S RELEASE


1. CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT.


2. FOR ALL THE ATTENTION THE SOVIET MEDIA HAVE
PAID TO NELSON MANDELA'S RELEASE FEBRUARY 12, HE
MIGHT AS WELL STILL BE IN PRISON. "SEVEN DAYS", THE
USSR'S MAJOR SUNDAY EVENING NEWS AND WEEK-IN-REVIEW
PROGRAM, DEVOTED ALL OF THIRTY SECONDS TO THE EVENT,
AND BURIED IT SOME FORTY MINUTES INTO THE PROGRAM --
AFTER SUCH HIGHLIGHTS AS UPCOMING LOCAL ELECTIONS IN
SVERDLOVSK. "PRAVDA" (FEB. 12) LIKEWISE DEVOTED
SCANT COVERAGE TO THE RELEASE, AND CARRIED ONLY A BIO
SKETCH OF MANDELA, NEXT TO THE FAMILIAR 27-YEAR OLD
PHOTO OF THE ANC LEADER WHEN HE WAS JAILED.


3. AT A PRESS CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW FEBRUARY 12,
FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER YULIY VORONTSOV WAS
ASKED ABOUT MANDELA'S RELEASE AND WHETHER THIS WOULD
PROMPT THE USSR TO RESTORE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH
SOUTH AFRICA. VORONTSOV RESPONDED THAT THE SOVIET
UNION WELCOMED MANDELA'S RELEASE BY THE SAG. "IT
WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF HE HAD NOT BEEN IMPRISONED
FOR 27 YEARS," VORONTSOV SAID IN THE ONLY FORCEFUL
COMMENT WE HAVE HEARD ON THIS SUBJECT. MANDELA'S
RELEASE DID NOT YET MEAN THE SAG HAD DISMANTLED
APARTHEID, HOWEVER. UNTIL THIS OCCURRED, THE WHOLE
CIVILIZED WORLD -- INCLUDING THE USSR -- WOULD REFUSE
TO HAVE NORMAL RELATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA, VORONTSOV
SAID.


4. THE SINCERITY OF VORONTSOV'S COMMENTS WAS
UNDERMINED BY THE FACT THAT THE QUESTION WAS
OBVIOUSLY "PLANTED." THE PRESS CONFERENCE HAD BEEN
CALLED TO DISCUSS AN ENTIRELY SEPARATE SUBJECT
RELATING TO THE MIDDLE EAST. THE PERSON WHO ASKED
THE QUESTION -- RADIO MOSCOW AFRICA SERVICE OFFICIAL
ALEKSEY BATOGOV -- WAS CLEARLY BEWILDERED BY HIS
PRESENCE THERE AND EVEN ASKED AN EMBOFF IN ATTENDANCE
WHAT THE PROCEDURE WAS FOR POSING QUESTIONS.


5. IF THIS RELATIVE LACK OF ATTENTION TO AN
HISTORIC EVENT HAS SURPRISED US, IT HAS NO DOUBT
INFURIATED SOME AFRICAN DIPLOMATS. NEVERTHELESS,
THIS TREATMENT CONFIRMS THE LOW PRIORITY WHICH
AFRICAN AFFAIRS OCCUPIES IN A SOVIET SOCIETY WHICH IS
ABSORBED IN DOMESTIC ISSUES. MATLOCK


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