MONTREAL (Jan. 31)
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau met in Ottawa with Avital Shcharansky, wife of Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky, and promised her he will intervene with Yuri Andropov, Soviet Communist Party leader, for the release of her husband on humanitarian grounds.
Mrs. Shcharansky later told a press conference that she was going to Paris to meet with Georges Marchais, leader of the French Communist Party, and give him her personal letter addressed to Andropov, appealing for her husband’s release from Chistipol prison where he has been on a hunger strike since September 26 Marchais, who is scheduled to meet Andropov in Moscow this week, released a letter last week from the Soviet Communist leader stating that Shcharansky had ended his hunger strike.
During her visit to New York, before arriving in Ottawa, Mrs. Shcharansky said that she had no independent confirmation that her husband had ended his hunger strike. Prof. Irwin Cotler, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who has been Mrs. Shcharansky’s defense counsel since her husband was arrested more than five years ago, told the press conference that “despite affirmations to the contrary, Shcharansky continues his hunger strike and is deprived of any contact with his mother.”
Cotler also appealed in a letter to Andropov for Shcharansky’s release from prison “on humanitarian grounds. He has endured the ravages of a hunger strike, the pain of forced feeding and deprivation of any human contact with his family. His continued confinement serves neither the cause of human rights nor the cause of Communism with a human face.”
During her visit to Ottawa last Thursday, Mrs. Shcharansky was received with standing ovation by members of the House of Commons and government officials. David Smith, a member of Parliament and the head of the Parliamentary Committee in Support of Shcharansky, said the Canadian government has appealed four times in behalf of Shcharansky, but that Moscow has never answered these appeals.