Jerusalem (Mar. 3)
Avital Shcharansky launched yet another effort today to mobilize world opinion to free her husband, Anatoly Shcharansky, who is serving the fourth year of a 13-year sentence for “subversive activities” and slandering the Soviet Union.
At a press conference here she declared, “I ask all the heads of states, particularly the Administration of President Reagan, to do everything possible to stop the suffering of my husband.” She was flanked by other former Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, including Yosef Mendelevich who was freed last month after serving II years of a 15-year sentence, later commuted to 12 years, imposed at the 1970 Leningrad hijack trial and Hillel Butman and Alexander Lunz who were released earlier from Soviet prisons.
According to Mrs. Shcharansky, her husband, an inmate of Labor Camp 35 in the Urals, was transferred about a month ago from the camp proper to its prison compound for a period of six months. Mendelevich said that “judging by past experience, this is the first phase before returning Shcharansky to regular prison.” His friends, who underwent similar ordeals, said prison conditions were far worse than the labor camps. They said prisoners were refused blankets at night despite bitter cold and were punished if they fell asleep during the day.
Mrs. Shcharansky dismissed recent press reports that Shcharansky would be released shortly in exchange for a Soviet spy imprisoned in South Africa. She claimed the reports were planted by the KGB to mislead world opinion. Lunz agreed with that theory, He told reporters conditions in the USSR are getting worse and urged them to disregard “misleading optimism.”
Meanwhile, Mendelevich addressed the weekly meeting of the World Zionist Organization Executive here yesterday. He urged no let up in efforts in the West on behalf of Jews imprisoned in the Soviet Union and their right to emigrate.