Government Organizes Peace Rally, Attacks Rights Violations Abroad
MOSCOW (AP) _ The government organized a peace rally of about 300 people to mark International Human Rights Day while blocking planned protests by unofficial groups. Kremlin officials attacked alleged human rights violations in the United States.
Seven senior officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Kapitsa, held a news conference Wednesday to commemorate the day, the 38th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
They answered at length when asked about human rights abuses in other countries, but turned aside questions about abuses in the Soviet Union.
Kapitsa said the main human right is ″the right to life,″ and said his government guarantees ″freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association.″ Those rights are abridged only to preserve national security, he said.
In Vienna, a Soviet deputy foreign minister, Anatoly Kovalev, proposed Wednesday that an international conference on humanitarian issues be held in Moscow, possibly in July.
Since 1966, dissidents have marked International Human Rights Day by holding unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. But this year, police blocked off the tiny square with steel barricades.
At 6:30 p.m., about half an hour before the unofficial protest normally begins, a bus equipped with loudspeakers began blaring martial tunes and a song ending with the chorus: ″Yes to a sunny earth, no to atomic explosions.″
About 300 people then unfurled multicolored banners with government- sanctione d slogans such as, ″The right to peace is the primary human right″ and ″Freedom to the prisoners of imperialism and reaction.″
Many people have been arrested in previous years for taking part in the unofficial Dec. 10 protests. One man was arrested Wednesday when he doffed his cap in front of the square’s statue of poet Alexander Pushkin, a customary act of protest by human rights activists.
A separate protest was planned by a group representing people who have been denied permission to join relatives outside the Soviet Union, but it also was blocked and several members were detained briefly by police.
One of those detained, Alexander Zhdanov, said his wife, Galina Gerasimova, apparently remained in detention. The group had planned to march to Nogin Square and display protest signs.
An official news conference also has become an annual event on International Human Rights Day. But there were few direct answers to Western reporters’ questions about the Soviet Union, which Soviet journalists greeted with derisive laughter.
Kapitsa called the Israelis ″bandits and lackeys of imperialism.″ He charged that the United States is interested in human rights only as ″political speculation″ for use against the Soviet Union.
In response to questions about the death of jailed dissident Anatoly Marchenko, Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Pyadyshev read a brief statement saying he ″died in a hospital from a cerebral hemorrhage.″
″This happened after a long and natural disease,″ he said.
The dissident’s wife, Larisa Bogoraz, was informed Tuesday of his death. Marchenko, who was halfway through a 10-year prison term on charges of anti- Soviet agitation and propaganda, had spent 20 of his 48 years in prison or internal exile. He died while serving his term at Chistopol Prison, 500 miles east of Moscow.
His wife has said she believed he was on a prolonged hunger strike.
In Washington, President Reagan called Marchenko a ″martyr for the cause of human rights.″
A British reporter asked if dissident Andrei Sakharov, winner of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, would be restricted permanently to the closed city of Gorky, where he is in exile.
″There is nothing permanent in the world,″ said Vsevolod Sofinsky, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Cultural and Humanitarian Contacts.
Asked later what that meant, he said: ″We do everything in our country on the basis of plan, except for those things which cannot be planned.″
Sergei Gusev, deputy chairman of the Supreme Court, dismissed Sakharov as a criminal.
Sakharov was exiled to Gorky in January 1980 although he was never charged or tried.