AP NEWS
Related topics

Wife of Imprisoned Soviet Jewish Activist Maintains Vigil

November 12, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ The wife of imprisoned Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky says she will take her fight for his freedom to Washington and Geneva, Switzerland, to draw worldwide attention to her husband’s plight.

″We continue our demand to get freedom for my husband,″ said Avital Shcharansky, who was conducting a three-day sit-in outside the Soviet Consulate here. ″We want to bring attention to the situation in the Soviet Union.″

Mrs. Shcharansky, who sat in a folding chair behind police barricades, was joined Monday by a half-dozen members of various Zionist organizations. Rabbi Avi Wiess, a teacher at Yeshiva University, conducted a class of about 20 students behind the barricades on East 67th Street.

Mrs. Shcharansky, who has not seen her husband since July 5, 1974, the day after their marriage, said today would be the final day of her 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. sit-in in New York. Then she plans to go to Washington and sit in at the Soviet Embassy, starting Wednesday.

Next week, she said, she plans to take her fight to the U.S.-Soviet arms talks in Geneva because ″the world will watch.″

She began her sit-in Sunday to coincide with demonstrations at the United Nations condemning the world body on the 10th anniversary of its resolution equating Zionism with racism.

She said she plans to carry personal letters requesting the release of her husband to the Soviet Embassy and President Reagan.

Shcharansky, who was a member of the Helsinki Watch on human rights, has been imprisoned since 1978, when he was convicted of spying for the CIA. His wife said his only crime was ″to be a Jew in the Soviet Union.″

Mrs. Shcharansky said her mother-in-law, Ida Milgrom, who lives in Moscow, received a letter from Shcharansky 21/2 weeks ago in which he said he has been isolated from other prisoners for five months, including two months in solitary confinement. The reason for this punishment, his wife said, was his request to be allowed to send two letters per month to his family, as permitted by regulations.

″He argued he had the right to send the letters and they punished him,″ she said.

His recent letter was the fifth received by his family this year, Mrs. Shcharansky said, adding that she believes he has written others but prison officials have not allowed them to be sent.