Reagan Meets with Refuseniks, Presses Soviet on Human Rights
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Reagan Meets with Refuseniks, Presses Soviet on Human Rights

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President Reagan continued to press the Soviet Union on its human rights record Monday in a meeting with Soviet activists, including 17-year refusenik Yuli Kosharovsky.

“On human rights, on the fundamental dignity of the human person, there can be no relenting. For now we must work for more, always more,” said Reagan in remarks broadcast live in the United States on network television.

The hour-long meeting took place at Spaso House, the Moscow residence of U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock.

The president’s remarks were the second on Monday to address the human rights issue. Earlier, while visiting Moscow’s Danilov Monastery, he called for increased religious liberty in the Soviet Union and the reopening of thousands of churches and banned congregations.

Reagan seemed to be paying little heed to a sharp rebuke by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Sunday. Gorbachev welcomed Reagan to their fourth summit conference by arguing that the U.S. president had ignored the changes that have been implemented under the new Soviet leadership.

But Soviet complaints about American leaders arriving in Moscow to lecture the Kremlin on human rights may have persuaded the White House to cancel another scheduled Reagan meeting with Soviet refuseniks.

The president reportedly had been planning to make a surprise visit Sunday night to the Moscow home of Yuri and Tanya Zieman, who first applied to emigrate in 1977.


When word got out about the scheduled visit, crews of painters, street cleaners and maintenance workers arrived at the Zieman residence to spruce up the surroundings. Reporters also gathered at the site.

But the president never showed up. U.S. officials would not comment on the reasons for the cancellation.

The Associated Press, however, quoted an unnamed Reagan administration official as saying that Soviet authorities threatened that if the meeting took place, the Ziemans would never be released.

In his meeting Monday with dissidents and human rights activists, Reagan told the activists that he believed “this is a hopeful time for your nation,” citing the release of more than 300 political and religious prisoners from Soviet labor camps since Gorbachev assumed leadership.

Nevertheless, the president declared that “the basic standard the Soviet Union agreed to almost 13 years ago in the Helsinki Accords, or a generation ago in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, still need to be met.”

“Despite democratization, our lot has not improved,” Kosharovsky told Reagan. “The government continues to deny our right to teach and learn our culture.”


North American Soviet Jewry activists arrived in Moscow on Monday for meetings with the press, refusenik families and Soviet officials, according to Jerry Goodman, executive director of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Goodman said leaders were scheduled to arrive in Moscow ail this week. Some would be travelling directly from the United States, he said, and some from Helsinki, where last week they convened to advocate the inclusion of human rights issues on the summit agenda.

According to one report reaching New York, Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York, national chairman of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, held a small demonstration in Red Square calling attention to the concerns of Soviet Jews. Weiss reportedly was in Moscow on a one-day excursion from Leningrad, where he flew after the Helsinki meetings.

Because of the heavy volume of news relating to the summit in Moscow, today’s JTA Daily News Bulletin has been expanded to six pages.

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