• U.S.

Nation: Then Again, Maybe Nyet

2 minute read

The 125-member Soviet diplomatic entourage to the U.S. is presently packed like caviar into a tin-can embassy-chancery on 16th Street in Washington. The Russians want out—and they propose to move to a 15-acre estate called Bonnie Brae in Chevy Chase, a residential area on the Maryland-District of Columbia line.

But the residents of Chevy Chase have their own ideas about the Russian move.

They don’t like it. Last week they showed up in droves before a zoning board that had called hearings on the proposal. Complained Thomas D. Quinn of the Chevy Chase Citizens Association: “The chancery would generate severe traffic congestion, attract sightseeing buses and curious tourists, bring pickets to the area with all their concomitant problems, and 1,000 guests or more at least twice a year to special social gatherings at the embassy.” Noting that the area is zoned for one-family dwellings, Quinn said that the Russian embassy-chancery will be “a business office—by any definition—whose location would be summarily denied a U.S. businessman.” A lady protestant put the argument more simply: “What if somebody throws a bomb at them? The kids could get hurt.”

But the Russians have a powerful ally: the U.S. Government, which supports the move if only because it would like Soviet permission to depart its own overcrowded Moscow chancery for roomier quarters. On that basis, a quid pro quo is the obvious solution. The Russians find it hard to understand the delay. Said one Soviet embassy spokesman last week: “In Moscow, if the government says O.K., then O.K.”

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