NEW YORK (Jul. 26)
Soviet Jewish activist Mariya Slepak was given a suspended three-year sentence on the charge of “malicious hooliganism” in a Moscow court today, it was reported here by organizations active in the Soviet Jewish emigration cause.
The 51-year-old Mrs. Slepak’s husband, Vladimir, was sentenced to five years internal exile on the same charge in June. Last week his appeal was turned down. They were arrested after they displayed a banner from their balcony demanding to be allowed to join their oldest son in Israel. Mrs. Slepak was released shortly after her arrest when she became ill.
The three-year sentence against Mrs. Slepak would go into effect only if she was arrested again on the same charge, sources here said. Mrs. Slepak told reporters outside the court “this is the result because my people are supporting me.”
The Slepaks first applied for an emigration visa eight years ago. They have a son in Israel. Their youngest son, Leonid, is in hiding to avoid being drafted into the Soviet army.
(In Washington, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter welcomed the Soviet court’s decision to suspend the sentence against Mrs. Slepak. “From a humanitarian point of view, we welcome the action,” he said. “Further actions along these lines would have a constructive effect on U.S. -Soviet relations.”)