WASHINGTON (Feb. 20)
More than 500 students from about 50 colleges and universities, mainly along the East Coast, today urged freedom for Soviet scientist Andre Sakharav and appealed to Congress for continued support of Soviet Jewry. Aleksei Seminov, stepson of the exiled Sakharov, and Rabbi Albert Axelrod, director of Hillel at Brandeis University, sought to present a statement appealing for Sokharov’s release to the Soviet Embassy, but their statement was rejected without being read. An unidentified Soviet Embassy official told them that it is “our policy not to receive petitioners when they come as part of a demonstration.”
About 150 of the students gathered at the daily vigil for Soviet Jewry across the street from the Soviet Embassy to indicate their solidarity with Soviet Jews. They were addressed by Natasha Federov, wife of prisoner of conscience Uri Federov, who urged continued appeals for the release of Federov, Alexei Merzhenko and Yosef Mendelovich, the three remaining prisoners from the Leningrad trials of 1970, in which there were II defendants. She also urged the students to press for human rights for all people. Mrs. Federova and the Federov’s daughter, Misha, who are not Jewish, were the guests here of the Washington Jewish Community Council. The Council distributed leaflets calling for the release of the three prisoners.
The students visited more than 60 Senators and 150 members of Congress as their constituents in their effort to motivate Congressional action in response to violations of human rights in the Soviet Union.
The effort was coordinated by the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry, which is based in Brandeis, in cooperation with the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
The Senate yesterday adopted a resolution, 91-0, calling for Sakharov’s release. The House had previously adopted the resolution, also without dissent. The vote was 402-0.