Washington (May. 31)
President Reagan met Thursday with Avital Shcharansky, wife of the jailed dissident, Anatoly Shcharansky, and promised to do all he could to help her husband. The meeting in the Oval Office was attended by Vice President George Bush, and losif Mendelevich, another Jewish dissident who was released from Russia recently and settled in Israel. He is currently on a U.S. tour for Soviet Jewish refuseniks.
Larry Speakes, the deputy White House press secretary, said the President “expressed deep sympathy for the persecuted Jewish and other religious communities in the Soviet Union, as well as for Mrs. Shcharansky’s husband and promised to do all in his power to alleviate the situation.” Speakes said U.S. officials would discuss the Shcharansky case with Soviet officials but declined to be specific about what the President could do to help Shcharansky, now in the fifth year of a 13-year prison sentence.
Mrs. Shcharansky told a press conference after meeting with the President that she did not know what the President might do but that “I trust him.” The President made no pledges of specific action, she said but she felt he understood “the emergency situation” and that her husband’s life was “in danger.”