Soviet officials responded angrily to a tough human rights speech President Reagan delivered in Helsinki on Friday, suggesting its tone boded ill for the Moscow summit.
"If that is an example of what we can expect next week, it could cause a lot of problems," said one official who had watched the address live on an American television relay at the summit press center."It was pretty-sounding but it was condescending and also out of date," said another. "His speechwriters seem to be about three weeks behind the times."
In the speech, Reagan said the Soviet Union should follow the Western example on human rights and urged Moscow to release political prisoners, allow free emigration and introduce full religious tolerance.
The president, who flies to Moscow on Sunday, made the address at Finlandia Hall in the Finnish capital, where the Helsinki Act was signed in 1975 at the end of the first European Security Conference.
"These are all issues we are addressing ourselves openly and publicly now," another official who saw the speech commented. "There have been moves ahead even in the last few days. He seems to be totally unaware of it."
In a commentary in the government newspaper Izvestia, written before the Helsinki speech, commentator Alexander Bovin said it appeared Reagan was coming to Moscow "on a sort of inspection tour.
"He will visit a monastery, and there, it seems, he'll check out how things are there with freedom of conscience.
"He'll go to the Writers' House and will examine the Soviets on freedom of artistic creation," Bovin wrote.
"He'll pat dissidents on the head and give recommendations on freedom of expression.
"He'll meet students and read them moral lectures on the delights of democracy and openness."
The Bovin commentary was the latest volley in a barrage fired by the Soviet media at the United States on Friday. It began with two national newspapers and the Tass news agency accusing Washington of ignoring its own alleged violations.
"Problems of human rights are everywhere," the Communist Party newspaper Pravda said in a commentary. "Do they really not exist in the United States?"
It repeated previous Soviet allegations that there were some 11,100 political prisoners in the United States "thrown behind bars on the basis of fabricated evidence."
An article in the trade union newspaper Trud, signed by an American journalist named as Al Levin, accused American prison authorities of systematically trying to break the will of political prisoners.
"There is no doubt that methods of exerting psychological pressure aimed at breaking the will of prisoners are being mastered," said the Trud article, a summary of which was also issued by the English-language service of Tass.
A Tass commentary by political observer Yuri Kornilov said the issue of "political prisoners" in the United States "cannot but arouse serious and growing concern" among Americans and the international community.
It said such concern was particularly acute among signatories of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act in which 35 countries, including the Soviet Union and the United States, undertook to uphold basic human rights.
The press denunciations followed a rebuke issued on Thursday by Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Petrovsky to Reagan's plans to meet Soviet dissidents during his five-day stay in Moscow.
Petrovsky told a news briefing that the meeting, whose participants include Soviet Jews refused permission to emigrate, showed a "clearly tendentious selection" of Soviet people.