Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev arrives in Paris on Monday (20 June) for a three-day official visit to France -- his first abroad since becoming Head of State.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev arrives in Paris on Monday (20 June) for a three-day official visit to France -- his first abroad since becoming Head of State. His trip comes amid a campaign of protests against the Kremlin's treatment of Soviet dissidents -- and there were protestors out in the streets of Paris on Saturday (18 June) as Hammer and Sickle flags flew in the Champs Elysees.
French polices and attitudes towards the Soviet Union have changed since Mr Brezhnev's last visit in 1973. President Giscard d'Estaing has taken a tougher, more critical line towards Moscow than the late President Georges Pompidou of General Charles de Gaulle. Nevertheless, according to Presidential aides, Franco-Soviet co-operation and East-West detente remain the corner-stones of France's foreign policy. The Soviet leader will stay at the 14th century Chateau de Rambouillet, near Paris and he will have three rounds of talks with President Giscard. They are expected to sign a number of agreements boosting trade and co-operation in various fields. French officials say detente in Europe and Africa and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons will also figure in the talks.
SYNOPSIS: This group comes from the extreme left-wing of French politics -- the Marxist-Leninist Communists. They marched through the streets carrying banners and chanting -- watched by a small crowd of disinterested by-standers. This demonstration passed without violence or heavy police intervention -- but the situation was very different during an extreme right-wing demonstration that took place the same day.
About 50 masked protestors from the French National Front had planned to stage their demonstration outside the offices of the Soviet airline, ???, after marching down the Champs Elysees. But the police were out in force, ringing the building and armed with the very latest riot-quelling equipment.
Brandishing iron bars, the right-wingers made a determined effort to reach their destination, but this was firmly resisted by the security forces. Scuffles broke out and several people were arrested.
The French press and radio have branded Mr Brezhnev a modern "Tsar" and have called on President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to use his influence to secure the release of Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharanski, a 29-year old Jewish mathematician arrested last March and accused of treason.
Saturday's demonstration soon erupted into violence. The riot police used tear-gas grenades to disperse the protestors who in turn retaliated by hurling petrol bombs under police vans. These cause damage, but according to Reuters news agency there were no casualties.
Reuters also report that a series of bomb attacks have been carried out recently on Soviet buildings in Paris by a self-styled solidarity resistance group protesting against Mr Brezhnev's visit because the people of Eastern Europe live "under the Yoke of the Red Army."