HELSINKI, Finland--The Soviet Union canceled one of President Reagan's summit sessions next week with General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev and objected to the makeup of a religious delegation scheduled to see Reagan, White House officials said yesterday.
Presidential spokesmen sought to minimize the last-minute glitches, which developed as Reagan and his wife Nancy attempted to overcome jet lag and rest up for the start of the summit in Moscow Sunday.
Roman Popadiuk said the decision to scrub one of Reagan's five face-to-face meetings with Gorbachev was "mutual." However, chief spokesman Marlin Fitzwater had said earlier that U.S. officials were seeking an explanation.
Fitzwater, talking to reporters in this Finnish capital yesterday, said, "I regard it as routine." A Reagan-Gorbachev meeting scheduled for next Monday was canceled by the Soviets for what the Kremlin cited as "some internal function."
Fitzwater said the Soviets had "a scheduling problem" with one of the two Reagan-Gorbachev sessions that day, in particular one set for Monday afternoon.
There was no indication whether the cancellation was related in any way to a Communist Party conference, the first of its kind since 1941, that is scheduled to open in Moscow after the summit.
Another problem developed when word reached the presidential party that the Soviets had questioned the participation of one of the religious groups scheduled to meet with Reagan at the Danilov monastery on Monday.
"The meeting itself is still on as far as I know," Fitzwater said. He said he did not know which religious group the Soviets objected to.
Reagan also plans to meet separately with a group of Jewish "refuseniks" who had been unable to obtain exit permits for Israel. Fitzwater said he was unable to verify a complaint that two persons had been intercepted by Soviet authorities on their way to Moscow from Leningrad.
A White House official, speaking on condition he not be identified by name, said the administration had been assured that "everyone that's been invited will attend" the Monday afternoon session.
On the official level, the Soviets have shown no concern over the meeting planned between Reagan and Soviet refuseniks. At a press conference to discuss the forthcoming summit, U.S. affairs expert Georgy A. Arbatov and Communist Party Central Committee official Nikolai Shishlin both stated that they considered Reagan's meeting partners his own business.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir F. Petrovsky said, "This American move is hardly aimed at improving mutual understanding between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R."
As far as the planned Reagan meeting with "refuseniks" and "dissidents" is concerned, Petrovsky said, it "looks in a different light, since the point at issue is an obviously tendentious selection of the participants."
Petrovsky said "the U.S. president, who will be our guest in Moscow, is certainly free to decide who of Soviet citizens he finds interesting and useful to meet with outside the framework of the official events."
Dozens of refuseniks demonstrating in Moscow yesterday said they want human rights to figure prominently in the Reagan-Gorbachev meetings.