Senator Calls State Department Appeasers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The senator behind the attempt to get a Soviet sailor to testify in public on his defection attempt said Saturday the State Department let the sailor’s ship leave the country because it wanted to ″appease the Soviet Union.″
Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who is chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said he was urging President Reagan to bring up the case of Miroslav Medvid, who was aboard a Soviet grain vessel that left New Orleans on Saturday, at the summit in Geneva.
The president should ″insist that the Soviets bring Mr. Medvid to Switzerland where he can have a chance to be examined impartially after appropriate time for recuperation from his ordeal.″
Medvid, the State Department has said, changed his mind about wanting to defect to the United States. Aides from Helms’ committee left an Agriculture Commitee subpoena for Medvid on board the Marshal Koniev on Friday - a subpoena the administration did nothing to enforce on the grounds that ″the case is closed,″ and a subpoena the Soviets refused to honor.
″Once again, the State Department clearly decided that it is more important to appease the Soviet Union than to allow a young man to have an unfettered chance for freedom,″ Helms said in a statement.
″The point is this: the State Department itself has released documents showing that Mr. Medvid was beaten by the Soviets and drugged with powerful mind-suppressing drugs, yet State Department officials persist in the unbelievable claim that Mr. Medvid chose to go back to slavery of his own free will.″
Helms said he was ″reluctant to believe that the presdient is personally responsible for this action performed in his name, especially since more than two-thirds of the U.S. Senate asked the president two days ago to have Mr. Medvid examined in a third country.″
Helms is also the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in that position has sometimes delayed confirmation of appointments because of disagreements with the administration.
Asked if the senator would use the Foreign Relations Committee position to pursue the matter further, Ron Phillips, an Agriculture Committee press aide, said he did not know the answer.
Anita Stockman, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment on helms’ statement.