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The Plight of Shcharansky

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D. Cal.), long involved in the struggle for Soviet Jewry, met last week in the Soviet Union with Mrs. I do Milgrom, mother of Anatoly Shcharansky–the Soviet Jew who has been in prison and held incommunicado for more than a year, according to a report by his office here.

Waxman and two other members of a congressional delegation who are in the Soviet Union to discuss arms limitation negotiations also met with a leading Soviet Jewish activist, Vladimir Slepak and more than a dozen of Slepak’s fellow refuseniks. Waxman and Reps. M. Robert Carr (D. Mich.) and Patricia Schroeder (D. Colo.) insisted on making contact with Jewish activists–though the official congressional committee schedule did not make provisions for such talks.

According to Waxman, neither Shcharansky’s mother or any other members of his family have been given any information as to whether or when a trial will take place or precisely what the charges will be. Waxman reported that Shcharansky’s mother is “in a state of terrible anguish living with the constant fear that a trial for treason could result in a death sentence.”

Slepak and his associates told the Waxman group that the emigration situation is deteriorating. After his visit with Slepak–who has been denied permission to leave for more than eight years–and other refuseniks, Waxman reported that exit permits are being issued mainly to the sick and aged and that it has become especially hard for scientists and other professionals to emigrate.

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