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REFORM VITAL, GORBACHEV WARNS E. GERMANS
NATION’S TV SNUBS SOVIET CHIEF, BLACKS OUT COVERAGE OF ARRIVAL

SHARE REFORM VITAL, GORBACHEV WARNS E. GERMANS
NATION’S TV SNUBS SOVIET CHIEF, BLACKS OUT COVERAGE OF ARRIVAL

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in East Berlin Friday for a two-day visit to mark East Germany's 40th anniversary and promptly warned the hard-line government of the urgent need for reform.

Gorbachev's visit comes as the government of arch conservative Erich Honecker is reeling from the embarrassment caused by a flood of East German refugees fleeing to the West through more moderate communist states.Setting the tone for what is likely to be a stormy visit, state-run East German television blacked out live coverage of Gorbachev's arrival in an unprecedented insult to the Soviet leader.

Such arrival ceremonies, especially of a prominent communist and world statesman, are normally covered live by television with great fanfare from start to finish.

There was no explanation why Gorbachev's arrival was shunned and even the state-controlled print media gave little attention to the Soviet leader's visit.

Later at a visit to a World War II memorial, Gorbachev was asked whether the East German government needed to adopt reforms similiar to those he has implemented in the Soviet Union.

"Everybody should decide for themselves what is necessary for their own country. They have to learn from life," Gorbachev said.

"The real danger is when you don't react to life. Those who take their impulses from life and society need not be afraid," he said in a clear reminder to Honecker of the need to change with the times.

Gorbachev said the ongoing refugee crisis in East Germany, while not a serious threat to East Germany, did pose certain problems for the communist alliance.

"We are not surprised by anything; we are accustomed to difficulties," he said.

One youth shouted from the crowd, "Help us, help us." Gorbachev smiled and said, "You should not panic."

Honecker was on hand at Schoenefeld airport to formally greet Gorbachev but the ailing East German leader clearly saved his warmest embrace and heartiest welcome for fellow hard-line anti-reform communist Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu who arrived after Gorbachev.

Gorbachev waved warmly as he descended the steps of his Aeroflot jet with wife Raisa at his side. Thousands of East Germans, many chanting "Gorby, Gorby," lined his motorcade route into the city.

However, at other stops the crowd was apparently hand-picked and dominated by the Communist Party-affiliated youth group Free Democratic Youth, who appeared to be charged with stifling and outshouting any possible protesters.

Honecker, who is believed to be suffering from cancer, joked with reporters before Gorbachev's arrival but said little when asked about the ongoing refugee crisis.

Western diplomats expected some tough talking between Gorbachev and Honecker as the rift between the reformists and the hard-liners in the European communist alliance widens. Gorbachev is expected to advise Honecker to adopt at least some democratic reforms.

There had been speculation that Gorbachev had threatened to cancel his visit if the refugee crisis were not solved before the celebrations.

East Berlin's decision to allow thousands of citizens to emigrate to West Germany from Czechoslovakia and Poland in the recent days followed weeks of consultation with Moscow and Bonn.