Sakharov Kin Fear He ‘May Be Dead’
Andrei D. Sakharov’s stepchildren said Friday they believe that the Soviet dissident has disappeared from his apartment in Gorky, the city to which he was exiled in 1980, and fear he “may be dead.”
Alexei Semyonov and Tatyana Yankelovitch said their fears stemmed from the return of a present sent to Sakharov for his 64th birthday last month.
They told a news conference at a human rights conference in Ottawa that they not been able to communicate with either Sakharov or their mother, Yelena Bonner, for two months and the return of the present had “the most tragic meaning for us.”
“This way she is telling us they are not together,” Semyonov said.
They had a brief, unscheduled talk with Vsevolod Sofinksy, head of the Soviet delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, who offered assurances that Sakharov and Bonner are alive and well.
Yankelovitch read portions of a letter written by her mother Nov. 12, 1984, which they received a few days ago, telling of the couple’s isolation in Gorky and Sakharov’s forced hospitalization during a hunger strike last year.
“On May 11,” the letter said, “he was force fed, at first intravenously, then by tube through the nose . . . all very excruciating.”
According to the letter, Sakharov had a stroke and lost consciousness and later exhibited symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The Soviet authorities “began to frighten him that he would soon become a complete invalid,” the letter said.
Sakharov was later released from the hospital after regaining his health, the letter indicated.