I think the problem is not really within the Star Trek ranks, but how it would be embraced when transmitted out to the American populace.
Again, I have no idea why you'd think that about this
generation of TV viewers. A quarter-century ago, maybe, but today? Like I said, the Cold War ended quite a while ago.
I think ST in general has been very open. Wasn't the inclusion of Chekov due to Russian Americans voicing their dissatisfaction to a lack of positive Russian portrayals and presence?
No. The original story was that it was in response to a Pravda
article complaining that ST was ignoring the Russian contribution to space exploration. Walter Koenig has said that no such article existed, and that Roddenberry simply decided on his own initiative to pay tribute to Russia's pioneering role in spaceflight.
And it's hardly as if television was devoid of positive Russian portrayals even in the 1960s. The character Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
, a heroic Soviet agent working alongside American agent Napoleon Solo in an international spy agency, was hugely popular, a major screen idol and sex symbol in '60s TV. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Roddenberry's real motivation in making Chekov Russian was a desire to emulate Kuryakin's popularity. Reportedly the character had such a legion of screaming female fans that the press dubbed him "the fifth Beatle," and Chekov was clearly meant to tap into the popularity of the Beatles and Davy Jones of the Monkees. So Roddenberry may simply have been drawing on some of the major sex-symbol types of the day in hopes of boosting the show's popularity with female viewers (although it's odd that he'd think it necessary, given that Spock was already immensely popular with female fans). His claims about paying tribute to Russia's contributions in space, and about the Pravda
article, may just have been his usual smoke-blowing.