THE SOVIET Mission to the United Nations in New York City is a squarish, white-brick building that looks like just another squarish, white-brick apartment house on Manhattan's Upper East Side, except for police standing watch at its door day and night. Until last week, the door at 136 East 67th St. was shrouded by curtains -- not iron, but they might as well have been. No prying eyes penetrated Moscow's New York nest.
The curtains have now disappeared. The door and the walls that flank it on both sides are clear glass, floor to ceiling. Passersby can now peer into the lobby. It's plain, not much to look at. But the symbolism of opening up the entryway shouts that times have changed.
Or have they? A half-block away, an official city street sign designates the intersection of 67th Street and Third Avenue as "Sakharov-Bonner Corner." Mayor Ed Koch put it there himself several years ago, protesting the Russians' confinement of the late Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner. The sign is still there.