NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky has begun an indefinite hunger strike in the Soviet Union’s notorious Chistopol Prison to protest confiscation of his mail and the refusal by the authorities to allow visits by his family, it was reported here by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ). Shcharansky began his hunger strike on the eve of Yom Kippur.
In Moscow, his mother, Ida Milgrom, said yesterday that “a long fast means inevitable death. I don’t think he will survive,” the two Soviet Jewry groups reported. She said her son had not been allowed to send letters since December, 1981 and that she had twice been prevented from seeing him last April and July.
“In January, when I last saw him, he looked like a virtual skeleton,” Mrs. Milgrom was reported as saying. “Now they (Soviet authorities) are doing all they can to see that he dies.” Avital Shcharansky, Anatoly’s wife, said last night in a statement in Jerusalem where she resides:
“Jews around the world have just completed a fast for one day, Yom Kippur, but Anatoly has begun an unlimited hunger strike in a Soviet prison to protest his complete isolation from the outside world and from being cut off from his wife in Jerusalem and his family in Moscow. In spite of his deteriorating health, after serving for more than a year in isolation in strict regime during his imprisonment, and appeals to the Kremlin to no avail, he decided to go on a hunger strike.”
WASHINGTON PROTESTS TREATMENT
Meanwhile, in Washington, State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said: “We wish to emphasize how thoroughly we deplore the Soviet authorities’ willful abuse of Mr. Shcharansky’s rights which has led to this desperate decision. We call on Soviet authorities to reconsider their treatment of Mr. Shcharansky and restore his ability to be allowed to communicate with friends and relatives.
Shcharansky, 34, a computer scientist, was accused of espionage and treason and sentenced in 1977 to 13 years in prison and labor camps.