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SOVIETS `EXTREMELY DISMAYED’ AT CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTERS

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The Soviet Union's main spokesman said Friday the Kremlin was surprised by China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and that Soviet officials have been unable to reach Beijing.

"We can't get through, either," Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov said in an interview.He said Soviet officials were surprised at the means with which Chinese Communist leaders suppressed student demonstrators who had been rallying peacefully for weeks in support of broader reforms.

Asked if he was surprised by the brutality of the crackdown on the Chinese protests, Gerasimov said: "We hadn't expected this." He said Soviet authorities were "extremely dismayed" at Beijing's actions.

The spokesman's comments are the first official Soviet response since the new Soviet Congress issued an extremely guarded statement Tuesday saying events in China were "an internal affair."

Gerasimov indicated that he and other Soviet officials who traveled to Beijing last month for the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years were aware of the massive student demonstrations, which occurred during the visit, but avoided focusing their talks on China's domestic unrest because of protocol.

Asked whether senior Kremlin officials have let Beijing leaders know of their concern over the military crackdown, Gerasimov said telephone contact with Beijing, the Chinese capital, had been impossible since Chinese troops cleared students from Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4.