The postal department's restrictions on admitting Communist publications to this country is more damaging to the national interest than good, Marshall D. Shulman, associate director of the Russian Research Center, asserted yesterday.
Last week, the postal department revealed that it had been holding back delivery of Pravda and Isvestia, Moscow's two daily newspapers, as well as publications from other Communist countries. The postal service said only diplomatic and foreign agents could legally receive the mail, but added the recognized educational institutions and libraries would also receive their publications.
Since the purpose given for the restriction is to keep "Communist propaganda" out of the country, extra customs translators have been placed at the big cities to examine the publications for "propaganda." But it has been admitted by postal authorities that, in effect, only these above mentioned "authorized" people can receive the Communist mail.
As a result of this procedure, Shulman pointed out, scholars who do work alone, and not at research centers, have extreme difficulty in receiving the information which is so valuable to their work. He said that the customs officials were doing their "best" but that certain regulations were at fault.
Restrictions Hamper Scholars
"We at the Russian Research Center suffer less under these restrictions than do scholars who are not attached to a recognized institution"; Shulman said, "we have found the customs authorities as cooperative as possible under the circumstances, and we appreciate their efforts."
"But to students of the Soviet sphere," he continued, "whether they work independently or as part of a research institution, these papers are their 'bread and butter' source of information."
One of the Russian Research Center's prime sources of material is its daily receipt of Communist publications. From these, the Center experts analyze the recent trends and developments in the Communist sphere of influence. A loss of these documents would cause inestimable damage to the Center's research projects.
It has been learned that postal authorities have sometimes held up delivery of publications mailed to the Center, because of misunderstandings. Often, not knowing if it was "legal" to send the mail through, local postmasters have just stored the publications.
Shulman believed the idea of not letting the "propaganda" circulate, was basically wrong. "If you looked at the material involved, you would see that the danger of its subverting the American people is very small, whereas the value of the information it contains is very great."