WASHINGTON (Jun. 14)
President Carter said at a press conference today that he does not consider the arrest last week of Soviet Jewish activist Vladimir Slepak “a personal response” by the Soviet Union to his human rights campaign but an indication “of whether or not the Soviet Union can stand internal dissension and monitoring of its actions by private citizen groups.” Slepak, who has unsuccessfully sought an emigration visa for the past eight years, was a member of the unofficial group monitoring Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Final Act.
Carter noted that “a substantial portion” of the group’s members “have now been either harassed or imprisoned or tried and I think this is something that is continuing.” He said “I have expressed in the strongest possible terms, both publicly and in diplomatic channels, our concern about the actions of the Soviet government.” He denied that he has stopped talking about specific cases of individuals. He said he has “done so in the past” and “I intend to do so” in the future. He said that the Soviet actions “work against the best interests of harmony and peace between the Soviet Union and other countries.”
Carter added, “I think it is important for the world to monitor what goes an in the Soviet Union.” He noted that the Soviet Union “had voluntarily signed the agreement at Helsinki” which guarantees “certain basic civil rights” within its borders. (By David Ettinger)