French communists have begun filling in the missing months in the life of their Secretary General, Mr.
CU INTERIOR Secretary General of French Communist Party Georges Marchais speaking in French (2 shots)
CU Marchais handing out papers to newsmen
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Background: French communists have begun filling in the missing months in the life of their Secretary General, Mr. Georges Marchais, following allegations made by the Socialists paper Le Matin that he had made a secret trip to Moscow in 1955. The row which broke out on Wednesday (19 March) follows recent fervent communist denials of reports that Mr. Marchais worked voluntarily in Germany during the war until May 1944.
SYNOPSIS: The communists are claiming that the recent allegations are all part of a plot to discredit Mr. Marchais, but they are taking them seriously. At a news conference on Thursday (20 March) Mr. Marchais fervently denied having paid a visit to Moscow in 1955 and said the accusations were part of a campaign to jeopardise the chances of a communist candidate in the 1981 presidential elections.
The communist party newspaper L'Humanite has published documents showing that Mr. Marchais gave L'Humanite an interview, and attended six metal worker union meetings in France during the time he was alleged to have been in Moscow. While Le Matin is claiming that Mr. Marchais attended a three-month course at Moscow's Lenin University from September to December 1955. The communists object strongly to the implication that Mr. Marchais was working for the Soviet Union, especially as it comes so soon after accusations in the rightwing magazine L'Express that he had worked with the Germans in the war.
According to Mr. Marchais the slander campaign has been initiated by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the Gaullist Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, and Socialist Party leader Francois Mitterrand to improve their chances in the presidential elections.