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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958


page 7


When a group of about thirty-five students from the University took part in a demonstration outside the Soviet Legation in Messines Road in the afternoon of June 19, they were met by Mr. V. A. Roslavtsev, the Legation's First Secretary. He proved to be a poor public relations officer for the Soviet Government and was as unbending as a brick wall. Not only did he refuse to accept the leaders of the delegation, representing "Salient" and the Labour Club, but he also refused to accept the petition which they desired to present. He showed a lack of the most elementary courtesy and persisted with the lame plea that the petition could be dispatched to him through the post.

The smiling Third Secretary, Mr. E. P. Lutskij, made a far better impression on the leaders of the delegation. Unlike Mr. Roslavtsev, he gave those who met him the impression of having some sense of humour. If only the delegation had been introduced to him in the first place, relations between the students and the embassy staff would not have become strained.

The text of the petition was as follows:
"We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep disgust at the action of the Hungarian Government in executing, after a secret trial, Imre Nagy and Maleter, and imprisoning other Hungarian leaders. It is evident to the world that the present Hungarian Government is a phantom and exists only by the grace of the leaders of the Soviet Communist Party. For this reason we wish to make our views known to that Government through its diplomatic representatives in New Zealand. We believe that the action of the forces of the U.S.S.R. was base and perfidious because:
(1)Nagy was made Prime Minister by the Communist Government of Hungary to appease the just wrath of the people against the universally - loathed Stalinist puppets, Rakosi and Gero.
(2)Nagy did no more than declare himself for a multi-party and neutral state.
(3)He led resistance to, and appealed to the United Nations against the alien forces which sought to reimpose a colonial status on Hungary.
(4)He sought asylum in the Yugoslav Embassy and was taken into captivity by the duplicity of the Soviet forces and their puppets in Hungary."

Attached to the petition were approximately 180 signatures obtained in a period of from four to five hours.

The demonstrators arrived outside the Legation at a pre-arranged time with two huge placards bearing anti-red slogans. Assembling together in an orderly fashion they marched into the Legation grounds and were met at the front entrance of the building by the First Secretary. The intention of the demonstrators was merely to present the petition and then to depart, but when the Russian officials refused to accept the petition a number of students sat upon the steps and refused to budge. After half an hour of arguing and booing the students began to depart, leaving their placards behind them. These were promptly picked up by the Legation staff and hurled at the departing students. Meanwhile the leader of the delegation plonked the petition down upon the bonnet of a nearby embassy car and left it there, despite all Russian entreaties to the contrary. At this stage it looked as if a brawl might develop. As the placards were tossed back and forward a gang of Russians emerged from the shadows as if intending to speed up the departure of the students by force, if necessary. The Russians then closed their iron gates and chained them up.

Right from the beginning the Russians were obviously in a dilemma. They hoped to disperse the students peacefully but without accepting the petition. To accept the petition would have been an implicit acknowledgement of the truth of the students' allegation that the Hungarian Government was a mere puppet Government bolstered up with the aid of Soviet troops.

"Dominion" reporters and photographers were on the scene of the demonstration, and a very sketchy and inadequate report appeared in the "Dominion" of Friday, June 20th. Far better reports appeared in some of the provincial papers, such as the "Manawatu Daily Times".