WORLD

‘We discuss everything’

CATHERINE REDDEN December 14 1987
WORLD

‘We discuss everything’

CATHERINE REDDEN December 14 1987

‘We discuss everything’

WORLD

Soviet television audiences were allowed to see the first 55 minutes of NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw’s taped pre-summit interview with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev last week just as North American audiences had seen it—uncut. But as the interview was winding down with a question about Gorbachev’s glamorous wife, Raisa, the censors stepped in. Asked by Brokaw in the uncut version if he discussed “national policies, political difficulties and so on” with his wife, Gorbachev replied, “We discuss everything.” But Brokaw ap-

parently went too far when he followed up with the question, “Including Soviet affairs at the highest level?” Gorbachev said that he did.

That exchange was struck from the version shown on Soviet TV and published in the Soviet press—presumably on instructions from Gorbachev himself. The apparent reason: Kremlin concern over the widespread perception in conservative Soviet society that the fashionable, sophisticated Raisa Gorbachev has too much influence over her husband’s policies. Although her high profile is widely admired in the West, in the Soviet

Union, where the image of leaders’ wives has traditionally been that of little-known, modest babushkas, or scarf-clad grandmothers, her stylishness is becoming a political handicap. Indeed, national pride in having an elegant first lady is tempered by resentment of her obviously privileged life. When the Gorbachevs come to . Washington this week,

0 Soviet viewers will probjg ably see only subdued

1 shots of Raisa behind her z powerful husband. But it

will not stop them from wondering what influence she actually wields.

-CATHERINE REDDEN in Moscow