Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev demanded on Friday (22 February) a complete halt to outside interference in Afghanistan as the price for withdrawal of Soviet troops.
GV Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev speaking from rostrum in Russian, while officials seated behind listen
GV Audience listening
TGV President Brezhnev continuing speech as audience listens
TGV PAN Assembly hall with crowd applauding
GV Crowd continuing applause
GV ZOOM OUT President Brezhnev standing among other Party leaders applauding
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Background: Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev demanded on Friday (22 February) a complete halt to outside interference in Afghanistan as the price for withdrawal of Soviet troops. As Mr Brezhnev delivered a forty-minute address to voters in his Moscow constituency before Sunday's (24 February) national elections, the official News Agency Tass reported that martial law had been imposed in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
SYNOPSIS: Mr Brezhnev, speaking to a full-house in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses accused the United States of making a withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan impossible, by their interference in Afghan internal affairs.
The seventy-three year old Soviet leader,whose health has been failing for some time, used scathing language in his attack on the United States. He said that President Carter and the people around hi knew very well there had been no "Russian intervention" in Afghanistan.
Mr Brezhnev said the Soviet troops had finally been sent there after appeals from three successive Afghan governments for aid in repelling an invasion by "counter-revolutionaries".
News of the martial law imposed in the Afghan capital of Kabul came as the President was spelling out Moscow's stiff conditions for a pull--out of the estimated troops in the country. It was imposed following a wave of demonstrations and unrest,which the Moscow-backed government blamed on foreign spies and provocateurs, in particular the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan.
Mr Brezhnev, according to observers, appeared to be ruling out any Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the foreseeable future, by demanding an American guarantee that all alleged interference would cease. Political analyst said the Soviet Union regards all forms of resistance to the Kabul government as foreign interference, rather than indigenous unrest and rebellion.
Thomas Reston of the U.S. State Department responded to mr Brezhnev's accusation by saying that the only massive intervention in Afghanistan was by the Red Army.
Mr Reston said all resistance to the Soviet troops and the Karmal government was overwhelmingly indigenous, but he did not rule out the possibility of American or other aid to the rebels. But, he said, the U.S. goals remained the same - the withdrawal of Soviet troops and prevention of future threats to other nations.