Shcharansky’s Release Leaves Many Soviet Dissidents Behind With PM-Shcharansky, Bjt
MOSCOW (AP) _ Despite the release of Soviet human rights activist Anatoly Shcharansky, scores more dissidents remain imprisoned or exiled in the Soviet Union, and other activists says thousands of Jews are denied permission to leave the country.
By freeing Shcharansky on Tuesday in Berlin, Moscow removed an important focus of Western human rights agitation and a rallying point in the effort by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and other Western organizations seeking free emigration of Jews.
Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, unlike his predecessors, has not shied away from discussing human rights issues. He has continued to maintain that Shcharansky was a spy for the United States - a charge Shcharansky scoffs at after nearly nine years imprisonment.
Gorbachev also has stuck to Moscow’s position that physicist Andrei D. Sakharov, the other focus of Western human rights groups, cannot emigrate because he knows state secrets.
Soviet Jews streamed out of the country at the rate of almost 1,000 a week in 1979 to join relatives abroad and to escape what they claimed was discrimination in religion, jobs and schooling. Now, only about 1,000 a year receive permission to emigrate.
Soviet officials claim that family reunification is complete and that therefore almost no Jews need to emigrate. Activists claim many are still waiting for exit visas.
Members of dissident groups set up to monitor Soviet compliance with the 1975 Helsinki human rights agreements have been arrested, banished to internal exile or allowed to emigrate. Shcharansky, a member of the Moscow ″Helsinki″ group, was arrested in 1977 and sentenced to prison in 1978. The founder of the group, Yuri Orlov, was imprisoned the same year.
Shcharansky is free now, but Orlov is still in the Soviet Union, exiled in northeastern Siberia after serving a seven-year labor camp term. Of 20 people who were active members of the Moscow Helsinki group, six have been allowed emigrate, 10 have been sentenced to prison or internal exile and two have been forced to leave the country.
The two who remain at liberty in Moscow - mathematician Naum Meiman, 74, and attorney Sofia Kalistratova, 78 - are silenced by age, poor health and official pressure. The group formally disbanded in 1982, when it consisted only of Meiman, Mrs. Kalistratova and Yelena Bonner, Sakharov’s wife.
Crackdowns on Helsinki monitoring groups in the Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia have been similarly effective.
At least 17 members of the Ukrainian Helsinki committee are still in jail, some serving 10-year terms. Three Ukrainian activists have died in labor camps in the past two years. A fourth, poet Yuri Litvin, committed suicide in 1984 after spending 20 of his 50 years in labor camps.
Dissident groups lack well-known, leading figures such as Sakharov, who would gather information about dissident activities and pass it on to the West.
The only dissident group known to be active in Moscow now is the ″Committee to Establish Trust Between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.,″ a peace group established in June 1982.
The group, which claims a fluctuating membership of scores of activists across the country, has no quarrel with official Soviet disarmament policies but wants to emphasize contacts with the West that are discouraged by authorities.
Vladimir Brodsky, a founder of the group, got a three-year term last summer on charges of malicious hooliganism. Last month, authorities put a 17-year-old Moscow girl active with the group into a psychiatric hospital.