NEW YORK (Mar. 13)
Avital Shcharansky said that rumors of her husband’s impending release from prison were probably inspired by the Soviet KGB secret police. She told a press conference at the Park East Synagogue across the street from the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, that Anatoly Shcharansky is “still in prison and in very bad condition.”
Mrs. Shcharansky said her husband’s health had declined to such an extent that he is now unable to leave his cell in the notorious Chistipol Prison to engage in exercise because he cannot stand or walk for long periods of time. Shcharansky was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “treason” in 1978, Last September he began a hunger strike which lasted 120 days.
Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, N.Y., told the press conference which was organized by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry that a well-known French cardiologist, Dr. Robert Slama, diagnosed Anatoly as suffering from “a very progressed cardiac insufficiency with arrhythmia and left ventricular insufficiency. He should be hospitalized and treated accordingly.” Weiss said Slama’s diagnosis was based on Shcharansky’s precise description of his condition written to his mother a month ago.
Mrs. Shcharansky said that since Soviet leader Yuri Andropov’s letter to French Communist Party chief George Marchais last January saying that her husband’s sentence could be reduced and assailing the “noisy campaigns” for him in the West, “we’ve seen no movement, just words.”
She appealed “to all those throughout the world who have struggled for many years for Anatoly’s release and that of all Soviet Jews: continue the struggle … I appeal to everybody to continue their pressure on the Soviet Union.”