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Italian Magazine Publishes Soviet Dissidents’ Letters

August 2, 1985

ROME (AP) _ A new Italian political magazine Friday printed what it said were the texts of two-year-old letters by leading Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, answering criticisms of them made in the Soviet press.

The magazine Nuovo Occidente, produced by Italy’s Republican Party, said the letters were previously unpublished and were written in September 1983 to the Moscow court that sentenced the couple to internal exile in the city of Gorky in 1980.

The magazine’s director, Stefano Folli, said the letters replied to allegations in the Soviet magazine, Smena, in July 1983 that Mrs. Bonner had connections with Western secret services, that she composed all Sakharov’s public statements, and that she took possession of his savings.

Folli told The Associated Press he obtained the letters from ″members of the Sakharov family living in the West.″ The letters, said to have been written in Russian, appeared in Italian.

The letter said to be from Mrs. Bonner replied to ″the slanderous″ article in Smena. In the letter, she denied being a member of ″American, Israeli, and Zionist secret services,″ and said the accusations ″stem from the fact that I am the wife of Sakharov and that I am Jewish.″

In the letter ascribed to Sakharov, a top nuclear physicist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was quoted as denouncing Smena’s attempts to ″discredit my public statements as if they were not independent but fed to me by someone else.″ He was quoted as saying the Soviet magazine ″makes me seem like a moron, like a big baby, under the thumb of an evil, greedy, and authoritarian woman.″

In the letter, Sakharov denied allegations that his wife forced him to marry her, beat him and coerced him into going on hunger strikes. ″I asked her to become my wife, and since then she has lived with self-denial this arduous, tragic destiny,″ Sakharov was quoted as saying. ″The decision to go on hunger strikes was ours in common.″

This referred to a 17-day fast the couple endured in December 1981 to pressure Soviet authorities to allow their daughter-in-law to emigrate to the West.

″I consider my actions as consonant with general humanitarian ends, such as the safeguarding of peace on Earth, progress, liberty, and the rights of man,″ Sakharov was quoted as writing.

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