Writers from 14 Countries Appeal to USSR to Release Kuznetsov

More than 120 Western writers from 14 countries have appealed to the Soviet authorities for the release of Eduard Kuznetsov, who faces another nine years imprisonment for his part in the so-called Leningrad hijack plot in 1970.

The appeal, Issued by the International Committee for the Liberation of Eduard Kuznetsov, has been sent to Georgi Markov, First Secretary of the Union of Soviet Writers; Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary of the Communist Party; Andrei Gromyko, Foreign Minister; P.N. Demichev, Culture Minister; and top Soviet officials dealing with cultural affairs, administration of Justice and emigration.

Signatories from Britain include Alan Sillotoe, Iris Murdoch, Stuart Hampshire and David Storey; from France, Raymond Aron, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionescu and Jean Laccuture; from the United States, Saul Bellow, Herman Wouk, Bernard Malamud and Howard Fast; and from West Germany, Heinrich Boell.

The appeal was timed to arrive in Moscow today, the sixth anniversary of the opening of the Leningrad trial, when Kuznetsov was sentenced to death (later commuted to 15 years hard labor) for daring to question his country’s denial of the charter of human rights.

In 1974, Kuznetsov’s prison diary was published in the West where it earned him the Gulliver Prize. He is also a member of the International Pen Club and the Writers Organization in which the Soviet Union holds observer status. The appeal praised Kuznetsov’s literary talents, including his “originality of thought, art of expression, intellectual honesty and courage.” and asks: “What will become of this talent–if not of the man himself–under the present conditions which imperil his life?”

LEGAL PROVISION COULD JUSTIFY RELEASE

The appeal notes that two years before he began his 15-year sentence, he had already served seven years imprisonment for “anti-Soviet activity.” and that he is now in a specially strict regime labor camp.

Urging the Soviet authorities to show clemency, the appeal points out that a decree of the Supreme Soviet, published last January, sanctions an attempt to hijack an aircraft with five years imprisonment. In view of the six years which he has already served, the appeal asks; “Is it not possible that this legal provision could provide the judicial means to set Eduard Kuznetsov free and thus satisfy not only the exigency of written law, but also that of humanity?”

Although Kuznetsov was attempting to emigrate to Israel–he is the husband of Silva Zalmanson, who was released two years ago and now resides in Israel–no Israelis are included among the signatories of the appeal. Kuznetsov is also the nephew of the wife of the dissident physicist, Prof. Andrei Sakharov, who has recently expressed anxiety about Kuznetsov’s whereabouts and state of health.

NEXT STORY