Soviet Editor Vows to Champion ‘Glasnost’


KOBE — A Soviet magazine editor said in an interview last weekend that he will continue to push Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform plans as far as possible despite some governmental opposition.

“We practically publish all of what we like,” according to Vitaly Korotich, 51, editor-in-chief of Ogonyok magazine. “But at the same time I’m responsible” for printing accurate stories.

Western observers in the Soviet Union view the weekly illustrated magazine as being on the forefront of Gorbachev’s promotion of the “glasnost” and “perestroika” concepts for change in the Soviet economy and society.

Recent Ogonyok articles have included the Soviet role in the ongoing Afghanistan war, as well as former leader Josef Stalin’s cover-up of census figures in the 1930s.

“We must show the truth,” Korotich said. “I think we must discuss each issue, each problem. It’s the only way.”

There is no direct government suppression of Ogonyok’s articles and photographs, Korotich told the Japan Times during his recent stop here before returning to Moscow.

But he added that “we have pressure” from government officials opposed to Gorbachev’s policies in general. Korotich did not specify what kind of pressures.

“I cannot be freely criticizing the army or somebody else” without checking the facts first, he said. “It depends on your own responsibility.”

As a supporter of Gorbachev’s “glasnost,” Ogonyok has enjoyed almost as much popularity as the Soviet leader himself.

Korotich claims the magazine has enticed 800,000 new readers since it began waving the “glasnost” flag. The Washington Post puts Ogonyok’s total circulation at 1.3 million, an increase of more than 200 percent in the last year.

Korotich, who has been editor for a year and a half, sees an important role for the Soviet press in pushing Gorbachev’s openness policies.

“We build public opinion, we make (readers) organize their points of view…

“(For the) first time in many years, we (have started) to discuss real problems, to have many points of view,” he said. “I think for many of us, it’s something new.”

Korotich recently took time away from his editorial duties to attend the missile-reduction summit in Washington D.C. between Gorbachev and U.S. president Ronald Reagan.

The process of opening up to the U.S. and other countries is an inevitable one for the USSR, he says.

“We must pay for years of stagnation,” said Korotich. “We must know that it’s not so easy to be powerful and lazy at the same time.”