WASHINGTON (Aug. 28)
Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D. Ariz.) said that Soviet leader Yuri Andropov took a “very hard nosed” position toward human rights during a meeting with nine U.S. Senators on August 18 in Moscow.
DeConcini, who participated in the meeting, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview here: “We presented a joint statement prepared by all nine of us and within that statement there was a discussion of human rights. Four particular cases were mentioned — Andrei Sakharov, Anatoly Shcharansky, Uri Orlov and Raoul Wallenberg. We also brought to (Andropov’s) attention the reduction in the number of exit visas for Soviet Jews.”
Continuing, DeConcini said: “In his response to our statement, Andropov said somewhat facetiously that ‘it was a lucky day for him because we had picked such bad examples’. Then Andropov compared differences between what human rights means in the Soviet Union and our country. He said that the USSR should not try to make the U.S. think like it does on human rights, and that the U.S. in turn should not try to make the Soviet Union come to our standards. If (Andropov told the Senators) this continues, it will never lead to better relations between the two countries.”
DeConcini said that Andropov went over each of the four cases with the Senators. He told them that Sakharov was “sick” and that he had written an article in a foreign magazine which called on the U.S. to declare war on the Soviet Union.
The Arizona Senator and the Soviet leader referred to Shcharansky as a “spy” and affirmed that “there will be no discussion of him until his prison time is finished.” He also described Orlov as a spy, DeConcini said. As to Wallenberg, Andropov insisted, according to DeConcini, that the former Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, is not in the Soviet Union.
The issue of Jewish immigration was also discussed in the meeting and Andropov, the Senator said, tried to show with statistics from 1945 to 1983 that the USSR’s record on Jewish emigration was positive. Andropov claimed that 270,000 Jews have left the Soviet Union since 1945. The Soviet leader contended that about 92 percent of the applications for exit visas were approved, DeConcini said.
The Senator reported that he met with a number of refuseniks in Moscow who expressed their gratitude for the support they get from American Congressmen.
The other members of the delegation are still in the Soviet Union. They are: Senators Dale Bumpers (D. Ark.) Claiborne Pell (D. R.I.) Russell Long (D. La.), Patrick Leahy (D. Vt.), Howard Metzenbaum (D. Ohio), Donald Riegle (D. Mich.), Paul Sarbanes (D. Md.), and James Sasser (D. Tenn.)