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French Communist Party Newspaper Slams USSR on Shcharansky Case

The French Communist daily L’Humanite today strongly defended the right of imprisoned Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky to have a French lawyer’s assistance in fighting the treason charges leveled against him and said the Soviet authorities’ denial of his request for counsel was “inadmissible.”

Shcharansky was arrested last March and has been held incommunicado at Lefortovo prison in Moscow ever since. A dissident and activist on behalf of Jewish emigration rights, he has been charged with high treason but is yet to be brought to trial. His mother, Ida Milgrom, has asked a lawyer, Roland Rappaport, who is a member of the French Communist Party, to go to Moscow to act an her son’s behalf. Rapp port’s request for a visa to the Soviet Union was turned down.

L’Humanite wrote: “Even if engineer Shcharansky advocates opinions which we do not share, even if the facts with which he is charged are considered criminal according to Soviet law, we none-themes believe that it is inadmissible that the rights of the defense should be neglected. This is applicable to all countries and especially to a Socialist state.”

The Communist Party organ referred in its lengthy report on the case to the international campaign for Shcharansky’s freedom and indirectly invited its readers to join in that effort. France’s Communist Party has often taken positions in opposition to the Soviet Union on major issues, most notably the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact nations’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Its article on Shcharansky was the strongest opposition yet shown to Soviet treatment of its Jewish minority.

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