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Wife of Imprisoned Soviet Jewish Activist Maintains Vigil

November 11, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ The wife of imprisoned Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky staged a quiet sit-in across from the Soviet Consulate on Monday, her second day of a vigil to draw attention to the plight of her husband and demand his release.

″We continue our demand to get freedom for my husband,″ Avital Shcharansky said, sitting in a folding chair behind police barricades. ″We want to bring attention to the situation in the Soviet Union.″

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

She was joined Monday by about a half-dozen members of various Zionist organizations and Rabbi Avi Wiess, a teacher at Yeshiva University, who conducted a class of about 20 students behind the barricades.

Mrs. Shcharansky, who has not seen her husband since July 5, 1974, the day after they were married, said she would continue her sit-in every day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until Tuesday. Then, she said, she will go to Washington and sit in at the Soviet Embassy, starting Wednesday.

She said she plans to carry personal letters to the Soviet Embassy and President Reagan, asking that her husband be freed.

Shcharansky, a member of Helsinki Watch in Moscow, has been imprisoned since 1978, when he was convicted of spying for the CIA. According to his wife, 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.

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

Mrs. Shcharansky said she plans to bring her cause to the U.S.-Soviet arms talks in Geneva next week because ″the world will watch.″

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