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Flowers, presents and plenty of smiles were the order of the day as two Soviet scientists toured Salt Lake schools and government offices Friday.

The two men - Valeriy I. Zyukov and Alexei M. Chadovich - are from the Kurchatov Atomic Energy Institute in Troitsk, a town about 20 miles south of Moscow. Zyukov is vice director of the institute, and Chadovich is head of its software laboratory. A third man, computer specialist Andrei Portnov, will join them Nov. 9.They're visiting Salt Lake City for about a month to pursue a sister government relationship between Troitsk and Salt Lake County and to visit Hill View Elementary School and Olympus High School, where students have become computer pen pals with Troitsk students in the past year.

Twenty high school students and 10 teachers from Troitsk will travel to Olympus High School in March and April, and a like number of Olympus students and teachers will return the visit in June and July. Troitsk schools have had similar exchanges with schools in Oakland, Calif., for about a year.

The institute scientists became involved in helping to set up the exchanges because of their history of working with Troitsk schools, Chadovich explained. Troitsk is a high-technology town like Livermore, Calif., or Los Alamos, N.M. When the need for computer education became clear, the institute pitched in and organized a computer club for students because Troitsk schools didn't have their own computers.

The Soviet scientists' visit to Utah will include stops at several science- and technology-related sites. They spent much of Thursday at the University of Utah, and their schedule also includes visits to Novell and WordPerfect Corp. in Orem, where Russian word-processing software is being developed.

Salt Lake County Commissioner Bart Barker said county officials hope the budding relationship with Troitsk will expand beyond even educational and cultural exchanges to include trade as well.

The announced purpose of the scientists' visit is friendly and benign, and Barker said local officials were briefed by the State and Commerce Departments on measures to take to keep it that way. The main instruction was to make sure the visitors are accompanied at all times. Since they're from one of the Soviet Union's most advanced scientific centers, there is a concern that they not be allowed access to restricted technologies.

"The university limited what they saw yesterday. They didn't take them to the fusion lab. They took them to the artificial heart area, and they let them see the IBM supercomputer."

Zyukov and Chadovich were given tours Friday of the computer rooms at Hill View Elementary School and Olympus High School, where the visitors were the hit of the day. Groups of students at both schools have been studying the Russian language after school and writing to pen pals in Troitsk via a computer-and-satellite hookup.

Hill View Principal Paul McCarty said the computer link has been used to teach creative writing at the grade school. Fifth- and sixth-graders have found it much more interesting to correspond with kids their age halfway around the globe than to spend their time on more traditional writing assignments.

And the letters have created real friendships as well as improved writing skills, he said.


(Additional information)

50 Utahns head for Soviet Union

Lt. Gov. Val Oveson will lead 50 Utah business and civic leaders departing today for a two-week trip to the Soviet Union on a trade and cultural mission.

The purpose is to develop closer relations between the Soviet Union and Utah, he said.

The project is overseen by the State Leadership Initiative, a private organization, and the USSR-USA Society, the Soviet sponsor.